Under Santiago‘s Cycle Route master plan, paths are being set aside for the municipalities of Recoleta, San Joaquin, La Reina, Pirque and Pedro Aguirre Cerda.
For example, 3,400 meters of bike paths are being built in the area of Avenue Blest Gana, in the municipality of Pedro Aguirre Cerda. In La Reina, about 4,700 meters of paths will be built on Avenue Tobalaba.
Once completed, there will be 550 km of paths in the urban area with 140 in rural zones.
Fernando Echeverria, governor of the metropolitan region of Santiago, said in Chilean newspaper La Tercera that bicycles will play an increasingly important role in the city’s transport system.
“If we consider that today our region has 6.9 million inhabitants and that this figure is expected to increase by 1.6 million over the next 20 years, the issue of transportation is a priority for all,” he said.
The news is being welcomed by cyclists in the capital who already enjoy recreational routes and gravel paths throughout the city’s many urban parks, as well as a small network of paths both off and on the streets.
“We have always supported the idea of more bike lanes,” said Mac Mitchell, director of operations for La Bicicleta Verde (‘The Green Bicycle’), a Santiago bike tour company.
“Santiago is very bike friendly,” he added. “On our tours, taxis and buses have always been very respectful of us.”
In addition to the new lanes, a bike share program launched by the municipality of Providencia is being expanded following its successful pilot project, where users could rent a bicycle for up to a day, picking it up and dropping it off in designated areas.
The municipality intends to increase the number of bike stations from 15 to about 25 by 2012 and riders will be asked to pay US$4.10 ($2,000 pesos) a month for the service, according to La Tercera. The rental system is also being upgraded to make it easier for users to pay for a bike.
The bike-share program was highlighted recently in the Latin American Green City Index done by Economist magazine’s respected Economist Intelligence Unit as one of the initiatives by the city that set its transportation system apart in Latin America