A campaign called “biciudades” was organized to draw international attention to people in Latin America and the Caribbean who use a bicycle as their primary mode of transportation and to facilitate urban cycling. biciudades 13 “provides a snapshot of the burgeoning growth of cycling as a viable mode of transportation in the region’s cities.” I was disappointed not to see information on Havana, Cuba, where cycling is (since the Special period) still a popular mode of alternative transportation.
Six of 11 cities polled for a new study on cycling use in Latin America have either launched or plan to implement bike share programs, underscoring the growing popularity of cycling as a transportation choice in the region. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) worked with a team of students from American University in Washington, D.C., to investigate the scope of bicycle-friendly infrastructure, policy and activism in some of the region’s largest cities. They also studied a sampling of fast-growing intermediate-sized urban centers that are participating in the IDB’s Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative.
Between 0.4 percent and 10 percent of the population uses the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation in the sampled cities. In intermediate-sized cities, total daily bike trips averaged between nearly 2,000 and 48,000. The daily average ranged from 84,000 to 1 million trips a day in the region’s largest cities, with Mexico City leading with the most daily trips.
The biciudades 2013 study found that cities have limited cycling infrastructure but are nonetheless looking to promote this alternative. However, public sentiment toward cycling is mixed. While many praise its benefits, bicycles are seen by some as a symbol of low socioeconomic status, and there are concerns about safety and fear of theft, among others.
The study identified a strong and growing push at a community level to make cities more bicycle friendly. In Bucaramanga, Colombia, the group Ciclaramanga has mobilized more than 7,500 people in group rides and in Montevideo, Uruguay, Gente en Bici and Ciclovida Urbana gathered over 10,400 signatures to petition the government for more cycling infrastructure.
In addition, the report highlights several innovative initiatives to get around limited infrastructure. Many cities have found solutions in temporary programs called ciclorecreovías, or recreational bike paths which, although temporary, provide space for cycling on the weekends and in some cases, weeknights. The ASCOBIKE parking facility outside of São Paulo houses over 1,700 bicycles a day, a community-driven project that is managed from monthly membership fees.
The American University team contacted officials and pro-cycling community groups in 24 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bogotá leads Latin American cities with 376 kilometers of total bike lanes, while Cochabamba and Montevideo lead the intermediate-sized cities.
[. . .] This work draws on a rising interest in cycling across Latin America as a more economical, healthy and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation.
Here is the full report: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/97075176/Report2.pdf