Peter Murphy Lewis: Why bike in Santiago, Chile
Co-founder Peter Murphy Lewis recently wrote a guest blog post about ‘why we should bike in Santiago’ for recorrido, a Chile-based startup that allows you to view, compare, and purchase bus fares throughout the country. You can view the original post in Spanish on the recorrido blog here or read the English version below.
I am proud to say Santiago, Chile is a great city for riding bicycles and is becoming more and more bike-friendly year after year. In fact, it has been at the top of multiple “most bike-friendly cities in Latin America” lists! With an abundance of bike lanes and parks, it is very easy to make your way around Santiago by bike. On Sundays, many roads are closed for ciclovias, allowing bikers, runners, walkers, and rollerbladers to enjoy some of the city’s major streets.
In a big city the size of Santiago, biking is truly the best way to see the city. You can cover more territory and see more places in less time, and it’s a good way to fit in some exercise in a vacation! From the colorful and lively markets La Vega and Mercado Central up to the beautiful Parque Bicentenario and everything in between, all of Santiago’s highlights and lesser-known attractions are accessible by bike.
I have always been an enthusiast for cycling. I love the feel of the open air, the pedals beneath my feet, and I feel closer to my surroundings on a bike than when I am inside a vehicle. After being inspired by a fantastic bike tour Buenos Aires, I decided tourists in Santiago should have the ability to see this great city on two wheels. So, in 2007 I tapped into my passion for cycling and started La Bicicleta Verde with my co-founder Joel Martinez, a local Chilean. Now seven years later, La Bicicleta Verde is a sustainable tourism company that gives bike tours throughout Santiago every day. We have two different routes: “Local Life and Markets” every morning and “Parks and Politics” every afternoon. Both tours are designed to be easy, fun, and informative. In addition, La Bicicleta Verde offers bike and wine tours in the vineyards of Cousino Macul and Santa Rita. What’s better than biking through vineyards and tasting Chilean wine?
In 2011, Joel and I decided to create another tour company targeted for the lower-budget or backpacker travelers, and we came up with Tours 4 Tips. These are walking tours in both Santiago and Valparaíso. As the name suggests, the tours have no listed price: the tourists simply pay a tip of what they think the tour was worth. Today, Tours 4 Tips gives two tours in both cities seven days a week, and is ranked in the top 3 of activities to do in both cities by TripAdvisor.
We are an example of a sustainable tourism company. What does this mean? First off and most obvious, is that bicycles don’t need to be filled with gas and don’t contribute to Santiago’s smog! But more than this, we are sustainable because we promote local activities, local restaurants, local markets, and sustainable city activities. Furthermore, our bikes are from a Chilean bike company and we use a local Chilean communications agency. Simply put, we use and take advantage of the incredible local resources around us and hope our tour clients do too!