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How popular are bikes in Latin America?

The use of bicycles is increasing across Latin and Central America

How popular are bikes in Latin America?

The use of the bicycle as a means of transport does not only commit the citizens to their health and well-being, but it also improves mobility problems in large cities as the ones in Latin America. Traditionally, the bicycle has been associated to the rural transportation of farmers in countries like Colombia. However, bicycles are gaining importance in terms of urban planning and transportation. Increasingly, cities are adopting policies related to infrastructure development and healthier urban habits.

According to a study carried out by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Latin American cities where bicycles were most used are Bogota (Colombia) and Rosario (Argentina). Furthermore, other cities like Mexico City is also increasing the number of citizens using this kind of transportation. According to the IDB report, Bogota is one of the cities best positioned in terms of number of bike rides reported per day (611,472) and exclusive lines for cyclists (392 km). Moreover, Sao Paulo is the city with the largest coverage of public bicycles (4 bicycles per 10,000 inhabitants).

Pressure from civil society has been important in demanding bicycle paths, parking lots and other spaces suitable for bicycles in America. For example, in Montevideo (Uruguay) there are initiatives such as Gente en Bici and Ciclovida Urbana. It aims to mobilize more than 10,000 people; therefore, they have demand to the government a better infrastructure in a city where there are only 35.9kms of bike paths. 

However, the creation of infrastructure and the use of it in Latin America does not always coincide. According to the aforementioned IDB study, there are cities like Lima that has 141 kms of bike paths but less than 0.3% On the contrary, the Argentinian city of Mendoza, where 2.1% of daily commutes occur by bicycle, has only 12 km of bike paths.

The international health campaign to promote the use of bicycles as an active means of transport has been progressing in most countries of Latin America. The increase in the worldwide urban population and the sedentary lifestyles associated with it are some of the reasons why it is necessary to motivate the physical activity. The health and mobility policies associated with the growth of the infrastructure necessary to have cities prepared for mass transport by bicycle are increasingly common in South America.

The use of bicycles as a means of transport is also a useful tool for mobility and urbanism policies developed by cities. It allows solving transport problems associated with urban density and the use of private vehicles. The replacement of private vehicles by bicycles can reduce the levels of air pollution and noise. Thus, it could improve the quality of life in cities and reduce the diseases associated with these risk factors.

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Delgado

Copy edited by Marcela Peñaloza

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