Published on April 9th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut
Cycling: Bike Rental & City Tours in Latin America
Bike rental and loaner programs provide an eco-friendly, fun way to see the sights (and perhaps even make that next business meeting) in a variety of Latin American cities. So before you book that next city tour, check out these city cycling options:
Every Sunday from 7am until 2pm, several major thoroughfares around Colombia‘s capital are closed to motor vehicle traffic for Ciclovía, a 35-year-old tradition that is a sign of the city’s eco-friendly progress. It’s a super-popular outing for locals, but visitors can easily join by renting from companies like Bogotá Bike Tours, which also offers guided recorridos of the city.
A company called Urban Biking offers four guided cycling tours of Argentina‘s biggest metropolis, as well as excursions to the estancias and Tigre Delta outside of the city. One option is the Porteño Nightlife cycling tour, a 3.5-hour after-dark outing — priced at U.S.$50 — that guides night owls through the nightlife of Puerto Madero, Recoleta and San Telmo.
Bike Tours of Lima is one of the highest-profile cycling sources for visitors to Peru‘s capital. The company offers the option to rent a bicycle on your own (prices are 40 sucres or $15 for an eight-hour rental) or join one of three guided bicycle tours, which visit historic downtown Lima as well as the neighborhoods of Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos.
Mexico‘s capital has become increasingly green in recent years; the city is home to the “Muévete en Bici” program, which uses the city’s EcoBici service as a means of transportation (for locals and visitors) around the center of Mexico City. The weekly “Paseo Dominical,” which happens every Sunday, creates a pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly no-car zone along Paseo de la Reforma and into the Centro Histórico. (For even more ideas about offbeat travel and tourism ideas in Mexico City, check out my article, City of Surprises: 5 Unexpected Things To Do in Mexico City.)
If you prefer a more structured approach to your cycling experience in Mexico City, a company called Mexico Bike Tour offers three guided bicycle tours — one along the magnificent Reforma Avenue and into the Centro Histórico district downtown, one into scenic Chapultepec Park, and one in peaceful Coyoacán, which takes in the former homes of Frida Kahlo, Octavio Paz and Leon Trotsky. Tours are available in English and Spanish, and cost 150 pesos or U.S.$18.
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil‘s original jet-set destination is getting greener, little by little. SAMBA (Sistema de Bicicletas Públicas, or Public Bicycle System) has 60 stations and 600 bicycles spread among Copacabana, Ipanema and other neighborhoods. Locals and visitors can make use of the Bike Rio program — but you’ll need a cell phone for the daily pass, and the instructions are only in Portuguese, so best to get one of your carioca friends to come along. (Check out my Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rio de Janeiro.)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Paradise Rentals, which is located in Old San Juan at Puerto Rico‘s biggest cruise ship port, has a fleet of eBikes — electric bicycles — as well as traditional bicycles, available for both guided and self-guided tours. This type of transportation is especially practical in a place like Old San Juan, where the streets are narrow and there never seems to be enough parking for automobiles.
Santiago de Chile
Chile‘s capital city is yet another place where eco-friendly transportation is on the rise. A company called La Bicicleta Verde (“Green Bicycle”) rents an array of interesting bicycle types, including 1970s-style Beach Cruisers, tandem (that’s the bicycle built for two), mountain bikes and kid’s trailers that attach to adult bicycles.