Bike Lanes and Where are the Bicycles?

Ciclovia La Reforma
Most modern cities around the world are betting on putting in place infrastructure for bicycle transit. The environment, demographic growth and a lot of economic factors demand it.

Guatemala is trying not to be left behind, but in my opinion, it is failing, basing the bicycle lane projects in aesthetics and not practicability. In fact, I think the bases of these bike lanes are more in order of recreational and not commuting cyclists.
Not long ago, Guatemala City inaugurated, with lots of fanfare and with heavy coverage on Guatemala’s news media, an impressive and beautifully designed bicycle lane running on one of Guatemala City’s most affluent areas.
Not long ago, I had to go run some errands to this area of the city. It was about 9:30, just on top of Guatemala’s pick transit. I sat on a curve eating some street food for breakfast and reading a news paper, I was at the curve for about hour and a half; during this time I only saw two bicycles using the brand new bicycle lane. The two cyclist were transit officers! That’s a different subject…

today, once again, I had to visit this area of the city to run some errands, this time I rode my bicycle -a healthy 30k round trip-. As most urban planners in modern cities would know, bicycle lanes have to be of easy access for cyclist and its design has to maximize cruising speed for cyclist. Yeah, when you are commuting to work, you don’t really care about a beautiful scenery, you care about getting from A to B in the shortest time possible.
Well, this beautiful bike lane is full of turns and it crosses a lot of cars transit lanes. Yeah, the topography of the terrain might not allow for a straight path, understandable, but a lot of the turns, and many of them very sharp, seem to be in place to preserve the aesthetics of the bike lane, and not its practicability. More, when you have to cross one of the many car-crossings sections of the bike lane, the tiny ramps that get you off and back on the bike lane are at an about 45 degree angle. Come on! any cyclist would know this is wrong. If you are commuting at, lets say 25 kph and you hit one of this tiny ramps, you are very likely to get a burst tube, or if you hit it wrong, it might cause you to fall. Any cyclist knows this.
when I was riding this bike lane, I had to sacrifice so much speed. On my way back home I opted for riding the street, avoiding the pathetic bike lane.
And today I did see many cyclist using this bike lane, of course they were recreational cyclist, attending the Pasos y Pedales.

© 2014, Eli Orozco. All rights reserved.

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