Travelling by Bicycle
There is a cycle-ways project intended to create 640 kilometres of exclusive bicycle lanes in the Metropolitan region, 140 kilometres of which will be in rural areas and 500 in Santiago.
This plan also includes the construction of special parking areas for bicycles in places where there are connections with the bus system, Transantiago, or the Santiago metro.
Carrying out this complex work requires the support of organisations such as CONASET, the Regional Government, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Housing and Urbanisation, as well as the work of the Municipalities and SERVIU (Housing and Urbanisation Service). So far 102 kilometres of track have been constructed.
This project is intended to achieve two clear objectives: to develop an alternative means of transport which will reduce motor vehicle congestion in the streets; and to encourage the use of a non-contaminating means of transport, thus helping to protect the environment. This is a low-cost initiative for organisations interested in co-operating, and above all it will have a large impact on the everyday lives of city inhabitants.
The initiative is mentioned in a number of webpages which encourage the use of bicycles, and competitions are arranged to get children to go to school by bicycle.
The Santiago metro is building four bicycle compounds in its stations at Vespucio Norte and Mercedes, due to demand by users for this service for which they are even prepared to pay. Meanwhile, the World Bank, with a budget of 350,000 dollars, hopes to inaugurate fifteen bicycle parks distributed over the municipalities of Recoleta, Maipú, Lo Espejo, Peñalolén, El Bosque, Pudahuel and La Reina in October.
To enlarge these spaces, the Ciclo Santiago project is appealing for the construction of some 200 compounds. The World Bank offers initial financing for these but each municipality must undertake the administration, maintenance and security for at least 16 hours per day.
In the meantime, it is hoped that 19 compounds will be inaugurated in Santiago in October, and the Metro continues to carry out surveys by internet to extend its parking services, and to ensure that these are useful for travellers who wish to get off their bicycles and onto the trains.
According to a study published by the La Tercera newspaper, the time taken for a person to travel a certain section of road (between Santa Beatriz 319 and Avenida Ossa 1,000) varies as follows according to the means of transport used:
On foot: 1 hour 15 minutes.
Transantiago bus: 44 minutes 40 seconds.
Metro: 31 minutes 7 seconds.
Car: 26 minutes.
Bicycle: 22 minutes 22 seconds.
Motorcycle: 20 minutes 45 seconds.
At government level, a project concerning the use of bicycles is being put forward for approval, which will guarantee the rights and obligations of cyclists (this will form an article annexed to the Traffic Law). Also, there will be a fund for the maintenance of a proper infrastructure for bicycles and a national register of all bicycle users.
According to the latest study by the Nation Institute of Statistics (INE), there are 900,000 bicycles in Santiago while the average number of journeys made by this means of transport each day is 350.
Since August 2004, the Municipality of Providencia has been manufacturing its own bicycles for hire to anyone who needs to use them as a means of transport, but this project does not yet have a fixed start date.