Equity and accessibility of cycling infrastructure: An analysis of Santiago de Chile


AuthorRodrigo Mora, Ricardo Truffello y Gabriel Oyarzún
Line(s)Dinámicas Socioespaciales
Year of Publication2021
Journal TitleJournal of Transport Geography
Bike lanes, Equity, Accessibility, Santiago
Bicycling produces a series of health, environmental, and economic benefits for both individuals and societies as a whole. Even so, promoting bicycle use faces innumerable challenges, especially ones related to equity, as cycling-related infrastructure and facilities tend to favor middle- and high-income groups. This manuscript focuses on Santiago, Chile, a highly unequal city composed of 34 autonomous communes with no central authority. As such, decisions regarding cycling infrastructure and facilities are made by each commune without much attention to neighboring areas. Given that situation, this paper aims (i) to describe and analyze cycling infrastructure over time and how it relates to normative and socioeconomic changes in the city that have shaped and are shaped by travel patterns; and (ii) to examine the distribution of bike lanes in relation to administrative divisions, residential areas, and employment opportunities throughout the city. To do so, the official cadaster of bicycle lanes in Santiago was inspected during numerous field visits, and a series of analyses were conducted that prioritized the concept of equity. The results show that, despite the continuous growth of Santiago’s bicycling infrastructure in the past 15 years, equity remains elusive because most bicycle lanes are concentrated in central communes where middle- and upper-middle income groups live. That situation is caused by weak governance, a fragmented urban structure, and high degrees of inequality, which have made urban planning a difficult, if not impossible, task. Based on those results, several policy recommendations are proposed to improve Santiago’s current network of cycling infrastructure.
Corresponding Author
Ricardo Truffello rtruffel@uc.cl