My bike is my means of transportation and I use it everyday: to go to the gym, to work, to the supermarket and even when I go out at night (at least when I plan not to drink a lot). I double as a English teacher for professionals so everyday I cross the city going from one student’s office to another. I spend at least 10 hours a week on my bike. Sometimes I ride on the street between cars, buses and taxis and other times I use the sidewalk. But whenever there is a bike lane I happily use that space. It is safer and faster than either the street or the sidewalk. One of the more joyous moments of my time on my bicycle is when I discover a new bike lane. And just last week, while making my way from Providencia to Parque O’Higgins, I came upon a bicyclist’s pot of gold: dozens of blocks of new bike lanes in Santiago Downtown.
The new bike lanes are the result of an initiative by the Municipality to increase the coverage of bike lanes. This was inspired by research showing that 75% of commuters relied on Transantiago, Metro, walking or bicycling while the remaining 25% used cars. In order for transportation policy to democratically reflect the demands of the community, the Municipality set out to design public street use in order to enhance public transportation and bicycle infrastructure.
As a result, beginning in September of last year, the Municipality under then Mayor Carolina Toha announced the construction of 15 kilometers of new bike lanes. This added to the 28 kilometers already in place. The new administration of Mayor Felipe Alessandri saw the project through and the Municipality will soon formally inaugurate their use. Even before the official opening ceremony, all new bikes lanes can be used by the public as soon as they are finished. Including bike lanes that were completed under different initiatives, Santiago Downtown now boasts 53 kilometers of coverage. The Municipality declares this to be “the best bike lane network in the country” but from personal experience, Providencia maintains its edge especially when quality is taken into account.
The streets with new bike lanes include Dieciocho, Marín, Gorbea, Arturo Prat, Club Hípico, Almirante Latorre, Brasil, Lastarria, José Miguel de la Barra and Esmeralda. All construction is slated to be completed by the end of April. Below is a map of the new bike lanes as well as those previously constructed and already in use. You can now start including them when you plan your route across the city! I can tell you, they already make my commute easier.