Is Latin America the Next Biking Paradise?
Following what appears to be a global trend of increasing numbers of cities courting bike riders, Latin America's municipalities are beefing up their support of pedalists. The Wall Street Journal's Shane Romig reports, "[a]cross Latin America, a region known for its aggressive drivers, growing numbers of commuters are doing the unthinkable: Ditching their cars for bicycles."
For example, the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, home of excessively aggressive drivers, is promoting it's "Mejor en Bici" program, or "Better on Bike." "Buenos Aires has built 48 miles of bike lanes, from virtually zero in 2009, when the program began. The city plans to have 81 miles of lanes by the end of 2013. Already, 2% of daily commuters are getting to their jobs on bikes, an estimated 36,000 people, say city officials." The capital hopes to copy the successes of bicycle programs in cities such as Bogota and Santiago de Chile.
Yet, not all are happy about the transformation in transportation policy. Romig reports on one harsh radio commenter urging motorists to "squash" those on bikes by running them over, saying, "[t]hese people think they are French or European. Well, let me tell you: You're not French, you're Mexicans...That's why I ask you drivers when you see one of these pests, run them over, don't give them a chance, squash them. Maybe that way they will understand."