Santiago, the Chilean capital with an urban population of five million, and a metro area population of over seven million, is a beautiful old-world city enjoying a modern day renaissance. In 2006, the city opened Transantiago, an efficient service and the backbone of its transport system, but has since lagged behind other cities in the region on cycling and walking. Over the past year Santiago has made significant improvements to its cycling, walking, and public transportation infrastructure to catch up to the other cities in the region.
Santiago won the 2017 International Sustainable Transportation award for major public space, cycling, and public transport improvements. The city made an investment in 100 sq meters of new green spaces in historic residential neighborhoods and re-designed various areas throughout the city such as the Historical Center’s main streets, featuring a “complete streets” redesign for public transport exclusive corridors, transforming Calle Aillavilú from a derelict, car-congested and unregulated parking lot to a pedestrian-friendly oasis, and closing Calle Placer, one of the busiest pedestrian streets during a popular weekend market, to cars on the weekends.
The city also incorporated sustainable transport policy changes and education programs with a design that redistributes road space to create more space for cyclist. Santiago also implemented pilot and traffic education programs in kindergartens and primary schools respectively to introduce cycling culture early in life. Santiago’s efforts to improve cycling have resulted in an increase of cycling trips from a negligible 150 per day to 5000 per day. This number is expected to increase with the growing popularity of BikeSantiago, the city’s bike share program, which is responsible for 50 percent of the increase. Santiago also gave support to BMov Trici, a free bicycle taxi in the historic city center operated by a private company and supported by advertising, that encourages cycle use and provides a non-motorized alternative to taxis.