Biking Boom Takes to the Sidewalks

The city of Santiago, Chile offers a cautionary tale for cities amidst a biking boom that don’t rethink the mode balance on their streets: there’s nowhere for bikers to go except the sidewalk.
April 20, 2014, 9am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Catesby Holmes reports on the curious case of Santiago, Chile, where “the share of daily commuters who travel by bicycle is increasing 20 percent annually, cyclist fatalities are dropping (34 percent between 2011 and 2012), and bike-share is expanding (now in three neighborhoods). An estimated 800,000 santiaguinos get around town on two wheels.”

But there’s a catch: “With 133 miles of ciclovías, Santiago surpasses many peers but lags well behind Bogotá (233 miles), a similarly sized city. Its network also suffers numerous deficiencies, say bikers: lanes end abruptly, swerve around lamp posts, and cross ungraded sidewalks. The 45 mph speed limits on urban arteries increase the risk of cyclist death in a collision.”

“Facing such challenges, many cyclists have taken to Santiago’s sidewalks.”

Holmes’s coverage includes data about the surprising number of the city’s riders on the sidewalks, as well as comparisons between the design of bicycle networks in bike-friendly cities like Bogotá and Mexico City.

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Published on Friday, April 18, 2014 in Atlantic Cities
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