Night cyclists take to the streets in Santiago, Chile
Hundreds of people gather outside of Plaza Italia to promote clean transportation by riding together around the capital.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Category: Daily life - Sport
People gather before embarking on a night bike ride. (Photo by Felipe Araos/Flickr)
Every first Tuesday of the month, hundreds of bikers crowd around Plaza Italia in the middle of the night. Pedestrians and drivers alike turn their heads as a river of cyclists pass by, followed by hundreds of blinking lights and chiming bike bells, to take over the streets for a night bike ride around the capital.
What are known as the monthly ‘cicletadas’ have become part of a larger movement of bicyclists who are engaged in efforts to transform the way we think about urban transportation.
"The general idea with the cicletadas is to promote bicycle visibility," explained Denisse Carvajal Bruce, a regular at the night bike rides.
"You are like a moving display, like publicity on wheels for others to see how nice and healthy it is to ride your bike," she added.
Many observers cheer or wave their hands as the bicyclists flood the streets, while others join the crowd in the frenzy of the moment.
The organizers of the event - mostly independent groups and organizations like HappyCiclistas, Arriba e' la Chancha, and Asistencia en Ruta - act under the common belief that by influencing others towards more transportation by bicycle, we can help resolve such problems as traffic, noise pollution, air contamination, health issues, and even the insecurity some riders feel on the road.
At the same time in cities around the world, hundreds of people are carrying out similar bike rides at night. This critical mass, the organizers explain, is part of a larger effort to build popular support for bicycling as well as to attain bikers’ rights.
“When you go out with hundreds of other cyclists, you don’t feel alone in thinking about new ideas for how the transportation system should be in Chile,” stated Valentina Valladares, another regular of the night ventures.
Similar events take place periodically around the city, as well as events that are more informational and geared towards educating others and garnering support for cyclists' rights, improving cycling infrastructure and concocting future plans to promote bicycle use.
"I think that the event is also important for people to see themselves against the vehicles that surround us and understand that we have the same rights as they do," Carvajal Bruce stated.
The organizers welcome all to the next ride, and recommend participants ride with care while using lights and wearing a helmet.
Other participating groups and organizations: VeloSantiago, Pedalea X la Calle, Ciclistas por la Patagonia, Motivados, Bicicarros, RebelCallejereos, UCPA, CiclistasUrbanos.cl, Retropedal, Ciclistas de Lumaco and Chile Bike Polo.
For more information and to find out about similar events visit:
http://www.bicicultura.cl/ and http://www.furiosos.cl/