Cycle city

Chile’s Antofagasta to create 31 miles of extra bike paths

The master plan for the bustling port city in Chile's north is aimed at reducing traffic congestion and improving public health.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011  
The northern port city of Antofagasta is one of Chile's most populous. (Photo: Bracani....Antonio/Fl The northern port city of Antofagasta is one of Chile's most populous. (Photo: Bracani....Antonio/Flickr)

Chile's Housing and Planning Ministry has started work on a project to develop an extra 31 miles (50 kilometers) of cycle paths in Antofogasta.


The new infrastructure will build on the existing six miles (10 kilometers) of bike paths in the northern port city and will be incorporated into future road upgrades and maintenance works.


According to a report from the Ministry of Housing, cycling is still virtually non-existent as a means of daily transport in Antofagasta.


But the Regional Ministerial Secretary for Housing and Planning, Juan Gonzalo Godoy, said the plan would lead to an increase in the use of bicycles in Antofagasta and the neighbouring city of Calama.


“This plan will contribute to the objective of reducing traffic and congestion, achieving social, economic and environmental benefits that will encourage the sport of cycling and healthy living,” he told El Mercurio of Antofagasta.


Godoy said Chile's president, Sebastián Piñera, had made a commitment to developing a cycle plan for the Antofagasta region by 2012 and this would require significant upgrades.


He said the priority was to develop sections of the new cycle paths on roads that were already subject to technical investigation.


The head of the Housing and Planning Ministry's Department of Urban Development, Ximena Ponce, said it was likely that the final version of the master plan would be ready by next year, paving the way for further funding.


Ponce said the design of the cycling routes would take into account traffic flows, frequency of travel and proximity to essential public services such as educational institutions.


She said the new bike paths would include features to provide the city's cyclists with greater levels of safety and comfort.


The Housing and Planning Ministry has presented a map of the proposed cycle routes to Chile's Technical Transport Bureau (Sectra) to evaluate the plan's viability.