Following in the tyre-tracks of Bogot__ and Mexico City, the regional pioneers, the latest capital to boost the...
Following in the tyre-tracks of Bogot__ and Mexico City, the regional pioneers, the latest capital to boost the bike is Buenos Aires. In January, while sitting on one of the city_s bright-yellow public bicycles the mayor, Mauricio Macri, announced the completion of the 100th kilometre (62nd mile) of protected bike lanes. Launched barely two years ago, the city_s Mejor en Bici (Better by Bike) scheme has also involved interest-free loans to promote cycle-buying, as well as the lanes and 1,000 free public bikes at 28 stations.
At first this was unpopular, especially among car drivers. _Bikes were seen solely as tools for exercise and recreation, and people thought we were completely mad to encourage them as a means of commuting,_ says Guillermo Dietrich, the official in charge of the scheme.
Public opinion now seems to be warming to the idea, partly because cycling is a quicker way to get about Argentina_s capital, or at least its inner core, which Mr Macri governs. La Naci__n, a newspaper, found that a 7km journey to or from the city centre at rush hour took nearly twice as long by bus or car as by bike. Mr Dietrich has allayed fears about safety by erecting barriers between most cycle lanes and the traffic.
Cyclists are still a tiny minority of commuters, accounting for just 2% of journeys, but that proportion has quintupled since the scheme began. This year the city plans to add 30km of cycle lanes, to double the number of public bikes and add another 72 docking stations. In relation to its size, Buenos Aires will by then have the densest cycling infrastructure in the region. Even less excuse for porte__os, as the city_s residents are called, not to get on their bikes.
By The Economist