Thursday, March 23, 2006

Biking in Buenos Aires

To those of your familiar with local driving habits, biking in Buenos Aires may sound like a very bad idea.

On the other hand, the city is mostly flat and vast, so getting around on two wheels makes a lot of sense. Additionally, there are a few places where biking is ideal: the Costanera along the River Plate, the Ecological Reserve in Puerto Madero, and the Bosque de Palermo.

I didn’t buy a bike immediately. First I took a tour with La Bicicleta Naranja, an outfit in San Telmo, which, as it name suggests, rents orange bicycles. On a Sunday morning, I joined a group of Argentines, mostly from the province of Buenos Aires, and a guide. We did a big, slow loop of San Telmo and downtown, before visiting the National Immigration Museum.

For the next few weeks, I shopped around and observed the streets. It being summer, I noticed plenty of bikers.

I took a look at some used velocipedes at two bicicleterías that are located on the corner of México and Tacuarí (Monterserrat/San Telmo). For about $120 (US $40) you can buy a beater. Ugly and barely functional, but cheap. Another shop in San Telmo, directly in front of the Parque Lezama and the Museo Histórico Nacional, sells new and used bikes.

Ultimately I bought myself a new, chrome playera – a beach cruiser, for $225 (US $70). The frame was a little small, so for an extra 5 pesos, they put on chopper handlebars. My chrome is shining, just like an icicle...

So the bike is pretty sweet, though I’ve had a few problems with the chain and have, in the course of six weeks, had five flats. Last weekend the bike mechanic declared that I was cursed. Then again, the cobblestones on the last few blocks before I reach home glitter with broken glass.

Still, the playera is an enjoyable way to get around the city. You quickly learn to avoid big avenues without bike lanes (most of them) and the narrower streets that have a lot of bus traffic (like Marcelo T Alvear / Charcas). Sunday, I have discovered, is the best day to ride because the streets are nearly empty.

The web site of the City Government has a map with bike lanes (carriles preferenciales) and bike paths (bicisendas).

The sweetness of my bike, I should add, is completely annulled by the fact that I wear a helmet. This makes me an enormous dork. At last count there are four of us who wear helmets while biking in the city. Which makes some sense, because no one wears seatbelts, either.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

as I ride around town on my lowrider bicycle

I just couldn't leave that one hanging.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Dalila said...

Saludos, vecino. Muy bueno tu blog!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Brandán Buenosayres said...

Dave knows another name for pirate treasure, methinks.

4:50 PM  
Blogger bloguista said...

Hi! I want to let you know that I linked to your page about biking. I am new to blogging, so forgive me if I did something wrong.
My blog address is: http://bairesblog.blogspot.com/
I am from Buenos Aires, but now living in the US. I teach Spanish as a Second Language and the blog is mainly geared to my students.
Thanks! I loved your profile.
B.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Goyo said...

" I say BOOTY!" I've actually seen some pretty stylin' semi-lowrider bicycles crusing around town.

3:48 AM  

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