We provide a guide to Encicla, which is Medellín’s free city bikes system that permits you to borrow bikes from 60 stations throughout the Aburrá Valley.

This transportation system was originally started in 2010 by three students in the Product Design Engineering program at Universidad EAFIT. And in 2011 the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley began a pilot test, with six stations and 105 bicycles.

The goal of the system is to position bicycles (bikes) as an eco-friendly, sustainable and economic transport system for the city of Medellín. This is basically a public bikes transportation system for Medellín.

The Encicla system currently has a total of 58 bike lending stations in Medellín and two stations in Sabaneta for a total of 60 stations with over 1,300 bikes.

Also, about 33 percent of the Encicla stations are located near Medellín Metro stations. So, from metro stations you can use the free bicycles for local transportation instead of using taxis or buses.

In addition, all the stations in the system can be seen on a live map, which shows how many bikes are available at each station. And there are Encicla mobile apps that provide live maps showing bike availability by station available for Android and Apple.

The Encicla system is part of the integrated transport system of the Aburrá Valley known as Sistema Integrado de Trasporte del Valle de Aburrá (SITVA).

Note the above photo is the Encicla station at Museo de Antioquia.

The Encicla station in Parque Sabaneta

The Encicla station in Parque Sabaneta

2019 Major Expansion of Encicla

Encicla is currently being expanded to the rest of the Aburrá Valley. In late 2018, there were news reports that the system was being expanded to Envigado, Sabaneta and Itagüí.

The short-term expansion currently underway will add 16 stations in Envigado, 15 stations in Itagüí and 11 stations in Sabaneta. You can see the automated stations being installed in several locations. Also, the expansion underway is adding 2,000 more bikes.

New automated station being added at the Envigado metro station

New automated station being added at the Envigado metro station

In 2019, Encicla plans to add a total of 100 stations in the 10 municipalities in the Aburrá Valley. In addition, this expansion to the rest of the Aburrá Valley includes the construction of 120 new kilometers of bike paths.

At the end of 2019, Encicla plans to have a total of 150 stations and 3,000 bicycles.

The small Encicla station at the Sabaneta metro station

Medellín’s Bike Lending System is Very Successful

The Encicla bike lending system in Medellín is a very successful system. EcoBici in Mexico City has 475 stations and about 35,000 bike trips per day. Medellín’ Encicla in comparison has only 60 stations and over 15,000 bike trips per day.

So, Medellín’s public bike lending system supports about half of number of bike trips per day with less than 15 percent of bike lending stations in Mexico City.

After the expansion in 2019, Medellín Encicla is expected to be one of the most successful public bike lending systems in the world.

How Does the Encicla System Work?

To use the Encicla system you need to register your Metro Civica card to enable using the system

The system loans city-owned bikes to users with a registered Civica card for up to an hour at a time. And if you need more time you can renew the loan of your bike for another hour at any Encicla station.

Also, the one-hour time limit is very strict and you will be penalized from using the system for several days if you go over one-hour:

  • 61 to 75 minutes – 3 days penalty
  • 76 to 120 minutes – 4 days penalty
  • 121 to 180 minutes – 6 days penalty
  • 241 to 360 minutes – 15 days penalty
  • Over 361 minutes – 60 days penalty

There are two types of stations for borrowing bikes: automatic (32 stations) and manual (19 stations). At automatic stations you use your Civica card to unlock a bike. At manual stations you need to show your Civica card to the attendant to borrow a bike.

Also, when you are done with a bike you can check it in at any of the stations in the system. You don’t have to return the bike to the station where you got the bike. A bike in this system is reportedly borrowed an average of about 10 times per day.

Civica card is used for the Encicla system, photo courtesy of Metro de Medellín

Civica card is used for the Encicla system, photo courtesy of Metro de Medellín

How to Sign Up for Encicla

To sign up you first need a Civica card. We previously looked at how to get a Civica card when we provided a guide to the Medellín metro.

To sign up with Encicla you need to register on the Encicla website. On this website choose the “inscripción” tab on the home page. You will be given two options to sign up: as a resident or a visitor. The visitor is if you are tourist visiting Medellín short-term without a visa.

To sign up as a resident you need scans of your:

  • ID photo
  • ID card or passport data page (should be zoomed 150 percent and both sides)
  • Personalized Civica card
  • Utility bill (electricity or Internet) showing your address

To sign up as a visitor you need scans of your:

  • ID photo
  • ID card or passport data page (should be zoomed 150 percent and both sides)
  • Personalized Civica card

The scanned files used to apply need to be in JPG, PNG, GIF, PDF or WORD format and each file is limited to a maximum of 2 MB.

After you finish your registration, you will need to wait up to three business days. You should receive an email approval and notification that you need to go to the Encicla customer service office, where you Civica card will be activated with a password.

The automated Ruta N Encicla station, photo by Bertahan Luxing

The automated Ruta N Encicla station, photo by Bertahan Luxing

How to Get to the Customer Service Office

The Encicla Customer Service office is relatively easy to get to via the Medellín metro. The office is located about a 5-minute walk from the Alpujarra metro station on Line A.

In addition, you could use a taxi or Uber from your location the Medellín metro area to get to this office, just provide the address below.

Encicla office address: Carrera 53 # 40A-31, Medellín

The Encicla office hours: Monday to Thursday: 7:30 am to 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm, Friday: 7:30 am to 1:30 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

Encicla Hours

This city bike lending system is open Monday to Friday 5:30 am to 10:00 pm, with the last bike loans at 9:00 pm.

And on Saturday the system is open 6:30 am to 4:00 pm, with the last bike loans at 3:00 pm. Also, on Sunday the bike lending system is closed.

Furthermore, there is one station with an hours exception. The Robledo station on Monday to Friday is open from 6:30 am to 7:00 pm, with the last bike loans at 6:00 pm.

At the Museo de Antioquia station in El Centro

At the Museo de Antioquia station in El Centro

The Bottom Line: Encicla – Medellín’s Free City Bikes System

Encicla is nice and convenient system which permits you to borrow bikes for free for up to an hour in many parts of the city of Medellín and also in Sabaneta. And by the end of 2019, the system will be expanded to all 10 municipalities in the Aburrá Valley.

However, make sure to watch your time when using a bike, as the system is strict about going over the one-hour limit.

This one-hour time limit is the biggest downside of this bike lending system. For example, one hour isn’t a lot of time if you are being a tourist and visiting several sites in El Centro. But keep in mind that you can renew your bike loan at any station in the system.

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Editors note: completely updated on May 6, 2019 with information about the planned expansion of Encicla in 2019.