Chilean groups celebrated at international bicycling conference

Santiago-based nonprofits Recicleta and Macleta were both awarded Cycling Visionaries awards at the Velo-City conference in Vienna, Austria.


Biking enthusiasts from around the globe converged in Vienna, Austria last month for Velo-City, one of the largest annual bicycling conferences in the world, and Chilean organizations Recicleta and Macleta came away from the event with prestigious Cycling Visionaries awards in recognition of their contributions to the country’s urban cycling culture.

Recicleta: Bikes for low-income riders

Recicleta, which refurbishes discarded bikes and sells them at a low-cost to people in need in Santiago, won a Cycling Visionary award in the Advocacy and Social Projects category of the competition. This award recognized 30 up-and-coming organizations from around the world that are encouraging young people to get involved in bicycling.

The jury that selected Recicleta for the award was comprised of Velo-City organizers and staff members. As an all-volunteer organization founded by a group of friends, members of Recicleta were excited by the prestigious honor and looked forward to sharing new ideas and techniques at the conference.

“We gain two things from being involved,” Alvaro Gatica, a Recicleta volunteer, told The Santiago Times before the conference. “One is that we gain a larger public profile and more local support. Secondly, because we were invited to participate in the conference, we are hoping to meet other organizations that are doing the same thing. From this we can expand.”

Macleta: Women Cycling School and more

The other winner from Chile in the Advocacy and Social Projects category of the Cycling Visionaries awards was Macleta. The organization has run a Women Cycling School since 2007 with the goal of encouraging more women to take advantage of two-wheeled transportation. So far the organization has trained 235 women from different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds to commute by bike safely and confidently.

Sofía López, a spokeswoman for Macleta, told The Santiago Times that the organization´s efforts aim to help overcome the barriers that can prevent women from cycling, such as family responsibilities, lack of time, tight budgets, and risk adversity.

“Approximately 20 percent of women ride bikes in Santiago. That number tells us that that we need to improve our infrastructure and design and increase the number of women riding bikes,” López said.

Macleta was selected for a Cycling Visionary award based on an online voting system that involved the entire global cycling community.

Macleta and Recicleta, among the other winners, were honored on the first day of the conference in a special ceremony. Their event tickets were covered by Velo-City, and representatives from each organization attended the conference in Vienna.