In November, the city opened ten new kilometers of preferential bicycle lanes on two avenues leading downtown from the east and west. Open from 7am to 9pm, the lanes are marked off with white paint and signs are located on every block. Although motorized traffic is allowed in the lanes, preference is given to cyclists and traffic is restricted to a speed of 40km/hour, rather than the standard 60 km/hr. The lanes are located on the far left of each one-way avenue to separate cyclists from bus stops.
According to Abel Fatala, the Buenos Aires Secretary of Infrastructure and Public Services, cycling has increased on one of the routes by 35% over June and July levels and 95% on the other route. The Secretary has said that success on these lanes will lead his agency to open more routes in 2003.
Argentina’s financial difficulties are primarily responsible for the increase in cycling, but many cyclists name other reasons that indicate an opportunity for lasting increases in bicycle use.
“Now, the increase in bicycle use is not only a result of the economic crisis,” said Martìn Cáneva, President of the Association of Urban Cyclists, a local NGO who proposed the bicycle route plan adopted by the city. “There are other factors that add to the gradual but constant increase in bicycling. The society is gradually incorporating new values, such as health benefits and the importance of preserving the environment, leading people to consider the bicycle a viable mode of urban transportation.”