Using the bicycle in Latin America to go to work, move around the city and even take the kids to school is becoming very common. On one side weather is mostly favorable, cities are relatively flat, infrastructure integration projects are being developed and the understanding of multiple mobility aspects (mainly cultural) is changing. On the other side, congestion is rising, travel times are increasing and air pollution is reaching higher levels.
Some resemble a pull measure, making the bicycle a more attractive transportation mode, while other a push measure, showing the disadvantages of the other modes. During the last years, the number of cyclist in Latin America has been rising and more policy makers are including related projects in transportation plans for the upcoming years.
Biking beyond the weekend activity perception
The rising number of bikers in Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro show a common trend in urban centers, more people are using the bicycle as a daily transport mode. Additionally a global trend of young adults, who regardless of their income, are choosing to move around the city in bicycle, has been identified.
Some of the well-known benefits that make biking more attractive than other transport modes are convenience, low cost and health improvement. The increasing number of cyclists represents a behavioral change when compared with records from the previous years.
More roads for more cyclists
In Santiago, the recently released Mobility Plan of its central area fosters non-motorized mobility and traffic calmed zones. With its Plan Pro Bicicletas it aims at improving bike paths and parking infrastructure, while educating citizens about its use and implementing the public rental system Bike Santiago.
Last February did not only citizens of Bogota celebrated another día sin carro, but also inaugurated the cicloruta in Cra 11. A segment of one of the busiest streets in the city was transformed, from a traditional two lane in one direction automobile street to a double-way bike lane and a lane for cars.
Diverse efforts, a joint objective to improve mobility
Mobility is being approached from different areas, such as education, infrastructure, economy and gender equity, among others. The era of indiscriminately building roads is over. More and complementary aspects around the topic of mobility are being considered, for example health and social benefits.
The bicycle as transport mode appears as a very beneficial option in urban centers and citizens, as well as governments, are realizing it. This translates into more human and financial resources destined to design, implement and evaluate bike projects. Several Latin American cities are experiencing this shift in direction.
Still more inter-disciplinary understanding and clear cooperation among the leading institutions are to be developed. How does the vision of each city relate to each project? Is there a long-term investment plan? What role do education and promotion play? How does the current legislation adapt to new era bicycles?
Is biking a part of your daily commute? What are your motivations for riding a bike to go to work or to move around the city? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
Please note that this article expresses the opinions of the author and does not reflect the views of Move Forward.