7 Tricks For Biking in Santiago
You’re 7 Road Rules of Cycling Santiago
Before you aboard your saddle…
1 – Know the law. It is illegal in Santiago to not wear a helmet. Regardless of where you’re from, you could be stopped and ticketed. You’ll notice in Santiago that there are very few people that ride without a helmet, it’s not worth the ticket nor the potential head injury.
Hand gestures should be used when turning and reflective gear should be worn around daybreak and sunset.
Cycle paths are present in some areas in Santiago such as along the machopocho river. Keep in mind these paths are also used for pedestrians.
2 – Plan your route. Its always good to know your destination or at least where you are on a map. This allows you to plan out your route to avoid the larger less bike friendly roads. Keep in mind with less experienced cyclists and children it is a good idea to keep off the main roads.
3 – Gear up ! Aside from a helmet cyclists should consider other equipment such as lights (Santiago is dark from around 7pm until 9am in winter time), a bike lock (although Santiago is considered one of the safest cities in South America petty crime is an issue and your bike needs to be locked up and looked out for), your water bottle (this whole cycling thing can be thirsty work).
So you’re on the road !
4 – Know the rules of the road. These are things most people know from driving, cycling or mopeding around in any place. Just keep in mind, stick to the right side in Chile !
5 – Eyes and ears open. City cycling requires dealing with a large capacity of car, foot and bicycle traffic. Music being played through headphones is invented with bus passengers in mind, definitely not cyclists.
6 – Moving cars are dangerous… so are parked ones. Let me paint you a word picture. A man has just parked their mercedes benz on a side street outside his office. He gathers his papers and lunch for the day concerned that he is running late for his morning meeting. At this point a cyclist turns onto the quiet side street taking a breath, they have just escaped the wrath of the busy main street. Simultaneously as the cyclist is breathing and the man is rushing out the car for his meeting… BANG. We have a cyclist/ car door collision. Now you may never have been in one, you may never have even seen one, but everyone knows a friend of a friend that has experienced this first hand. Drivers should know to check for cyclists but it’s important to always be aware of potential obstacles.
7 – Don’t be scared to DING ! In some cultures using a car horn is seen as aggressive and rude, only to be used when truly necessary. Not to be confused with a bicycle bell. Not only is its playful ‘dinging’ friendly and inoffensive it allows people to know of your presence incase they were planning on taking any sharp turns while you are trying to breeze past them.
You’re good to go. BE FREE AND CYCLE! Just take some deodorant in your bag, all this Santiago Cycling business can be sweaty work. But don’t worry, you’ll look great!