Bicycling Buenos Aires
Buenos Airs cracks the list of top 20 bicycling friendly cities in the planet, according to Wired! Is this true? Should Buenos Aires be on this list? I think it should!
Reading the Wired article helped me realize that I was indeed not going crazy. Well at least not entirely. You see in my head I could not put together why it is that now that I live in Buenos Aires I bought a bicycle and why I’m now biking at least four out of five days of the week to work. Why it is that I now use bicycling as a big part of my commute and not three years ago when I lived in Chicago? Chicago after all has a very robust and nice bicycling community.
Infrastructure is key to having a successful modern city in this day in age especially when you have millions of people living there. Every time I visit a new big city I judge it heavily on what kind of infrastructure it has. I loved that you can get anywhere in New York City via the subway, Chicago has a very robust subway and bus system and Santiago de Chile has one of the nicest and newest subways I have ever seen.
So why is it that bicycling is such a big part of life in big cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam and not others? The author of the Wired article states that bicycle Infrastructure the key as to why these cities are listed in top 20 in the world. While I don’t disagree we should also look at the other Infrastructure and means of transportation in these cities like buses, taxis and trains.
Taking my own experience from living in Chicago as an example, it was very easy and sometimes painless to take public transportation to anywhere in the city. So why would I bother to take out my bike and take it to my destination when I could take a bus. A commuter in Chicago can download an app and track their bus or train line and easily know when it is arriving at their stop. Commuting to places throughout Chicago is then relatively simple and easy if using these means so to me it seemed that biking was more of an activity for the hard core. People that pushed themselves to either be healthier or wanted to save the environment.
Infrastructure Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has a big network of buses and a decent subway system. They have bus lines that take you to pretty much anywhere in the city. The subway system while at times seems old can get you from point A to point B. I’ve read that they have made big progress over the years to improve these systems but unfortunately the inflation and politics of the country have stalled or delayed many projects that could take the cities public transportation to the next level. To the level where using public transportation is all that you need.
Buenos Aires has however, as it is call outs in the Wired magazine, implement a very nice bicycle infrastructure through out the city. The bike paths in Buenos Aires are different than the ones I experienced in Chicago. These paths have a big curb protection to keep regular traffic from merging or using these bike paths. When I ride in these paths I feel very safe and it makes me want to bike more. In comparison the bike paths in Chicago are just painted lanes in a street with a few of them having a few extra feet of buffer from the normal traffic. The few times that I rode through those streets I did not get the same sense of safety as I do riding these lanes.
If any of you are planning to move to Buenos Aires I recommend you invest in some nice bike while living here. It truly is a nice experience and will allow you to enjoy and explore the city from a totally different perspective. Who knows maybe by that time Buenos Aires might move up to number in the charts.