THE RISKS OF CYCLING IN BUENOS AIRES
If there’s one South American city where cycling is a dream, it’s definitely Buenos Aires. The ciclovías (cycling lanes) span over 150kms, the mild, subtropical climate is great for pedaling all year round, there are no hills, the roads are in good conditions and most of them are one way. Some local cafeterias even contribute into make cycling more popular by offering free coffees and pastries to cyclists, and every first Sunday of the month there’s a Masa Crítica (Critical Mass) for everyone to attend.
Challenges of cycling in Buenos Aires
Although Buenos Aires came 14th in the Copenhagenize Index for Bicycle-Friendly Cities in 2015, even this, merging cycling city has its challenges… Apart from vigorous bicycle theft, there are a few things to keep in mind before jumping happily on your saddle. Cycling in Buenos Aires can be heaven — just don’t ignore the following precautions!
1. Hazards on cycling lanes
As bicycle lanes are a relatively new phenomenon to Buenos Aires, they tend to be filled with unexperienced cyclists, parents with baby carriages, people walking their dogs and sometimes even parked cars. To avoid unnecessary inconveniences, ride slowly, stay alert and try not to lose your temper. For your own comfort, you might want to get yourself a loud and easy-to-use bell.
2. Cars that don’t respect street lights
Cars don’t always stop at street lights and the priority is usually given to (or rather, taken by) the biggest and fastest vehicle. Although the traffic is nowhere nearly as chaotic as, for example, in Rome, you’re not in Germany, either. So, make sure not to cross any roads with utmost certainty only because you have a green light.
3. Buses on your right
The amount of buses and taxis in Buenos Aires can be quite intimidating at first; Buses are huge compared to a bike and it’s easy to get overlooked by them, and Porteño Taxi drivers sometimes seem to think they’re Kimi Räikkönen himself. However, the good news is that taxis as well as buses keep quite orthodoxically to their own lane. So, as long as you keep out from the lane furthest to the right, you should be okay.
4. Private cars on your left
As in every larger city in the world, also in Buenos Aires drivers tend to ignore speed limits and other “trivial” rules of the road. Yet, surprisingly, there’s one thing that they do stick to with hardly any exceptions: their own lane. Even on the most transited main roads of the city, private cars stay to the lane furthest to the left. This leaves you with an entirely own lane between them and the buses — as long as no one breaks the rules.
5. Motorcycles and scooters in-between
Rush hour in Buenos Aires brings its own, interesting challenges into cycling. In theory, it would be a great time for cycling, as cars basically either stand still or move forward very slowly. Yet, what makes it somewhat complicated are the numerous motorcycle and scooter drivers practicing their slalom skills between the cars. So, unless you want to be run over by a motorized two-wheeler, never expect that course is clear, before you’re absolutely certain.
TIP!!! Although Buenos Aires is filled with cyclists, you only very rarely see bicycles parked on the streets. As thefts are common, people only use their bicycles when commuting from one closed place to another. However, in the case of unexpected stops and errands, you can easily leave your bicycle in any of the cities paid and guarded parking spaces. They are not free even for bicycles, yet you will only be charged 10% of the price for cars.
Check out my post on the 10 Best bicycle shops in Buenos Aires on TravelDudes.org.