Taxis, though abundant and cheap, get caught in traffic. The Metro is efficient and clean but often crowded, and the city’s extensive bus system carries huge numbers of Santiaguinos throughout the city all day. Since its founding in 2006, the Centro de Bicicultura, or Center of Bike Culture, has been committed to promoting the use of bicycles as an alternative mode of transit. In their most recent project, Bicicultura has created an online Santiago Bike Map, or Bicimapa.
Using the map is simple. Even before entering the start and end points, the map is marked with blue and green lines along roads with special paths or bike lanes. Once you have entered start address and end addresses (exact addresses are necessary as intersections yield no results) just click ir – or ‘go’ – and the map generates a route in seconds.
The route will be marked on the map, purple for ordinary roads, green for those with bike lanes. To the left, the directions will be written out in list form with estimated time and distance, and a drop down menu above with three route options: ruta más segura (safest route), ruta segura (safe route), and ruta directa (direct route).
According to their mission statement, Bicicultura aims to “generate a new perception of bicycles as the most efficient, straightforward and direct means of beating pollution, urban violence, discrimination and socio-economic inequality.” Santiago is quickly catching on. Initiatives like Critical Mass draw hundreds of the city’s bikers to ride through the streets en masse for 90 minutes once each month, while the district of Providencia has positioned public bikes strategically around the neighborhood. The tourism company Bicicleta Verde leads bicycle tours through the Chilean capital, and new bike lanes open regularly along streets and avenues throughout the city.
Santiago’s streets are still far from being entirely bike friendly, but the city is changing fast as more and more people opt for efficient, environmentally friendly means of transport without the crowds that press onto buses and metros. With the Bicimapa, even visitors can navigate the city streets confidently and safely.
Give it a try: http://www.bicicultura.cl/bicimapa