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Eco-tourism, bikes and tango in Buenos Aires

If there is one thing the city of Buenos Aires was definitely made for, it was cycling. For a start, it is a flat as a pancake, with straight streets, in a grid like fashion. The only thing really holding it back is the traffic. As anyone who has taken a taxi ride in Buenos Aires will contest, driving here is very similar to being in a video game, where lines are more suggestions rather than actual lanes to follow, hazard lights flashing mean ¨looking for a carpark but will probably end up just double parked¨, indicators are just for show and very rarely used, the give-way-to-the-right at intersections has exceptions which include who has the biggest car or who is going fastest, the horn is an appropriate way to convey your feelings and speed limits are simply numbers that mean nothing. Biking, really, was taking your life in your hands and you needed eyes in all directions and it was inevitable that you would end up on the bumpy footpath to make sure you arrived safely at your destination. 

But all of that has changed since 2015. The city started building more cycleways - also know as bicisendas. These bicycle lanes are dual direction and are separated from the traffic with a little barrier. Usually these remain car free although it has been known to have had irate neighbours who are angry at their parking space being taken, parking in it anyway. In addition to that, the local council has also added Ecobici. Ecobici is the city´s free to use, bright orange bicycle rental system that allows you to access a free bike from almost 400 stations, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  And with 4000 bikes available, there should be one very close to you. There is over 200km of bike lanes interconnected throughout the city including through the infamous ¨green lungs¨ parks of Palermo, so whether you are after a small or large ride, you should be able to bike to your hearts content.

But what has that to do with tango you ask? Well, in today´s climate of sustainable tourism, a tango enthusiast might just find that biking from milonga to milonga is rather a good option instead of opting for waiting for a taxi. There are a few rules about using the bikes which include being over 18 if a tourist, only having an hour (or 2 hours on weekends and holidays) to use the bike before having to return it to a station and needing to use an App on your smart phone. If you need your bike for longer, you can simply return it and wait 5 minutes before asking for another. By using the interactive map at https://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/ecobici/red-ciclovias/estacionamiento, you can see the closest bike station to you and see all the lanes crisscrossing the city. 

If you fancy getting out and filling your night dancing tango, you could start off the evening by heading to La Glorieta, the open air milonga held in the old bandstand in Barrancas de Belgrano. Jump on an Ecobici bike and either head to Salon Canning or Club Malcolm in Palermo or even all the way to El Tacuari or La Mariposita in San Telmo. Thinking of finishing off the night at La Viruta in the hope to catch their 5am medialunas? There is an Ecobici station on the corner of Gorriti and Armenia, a block and a half away from the milonga. And rumour has it, the medialunas are totally worth it. 

But what about the chaotic traffic, I hear you wonder. Well, cars are not the only thing you have to look out for while biking in this city. In a city where pedestrians are always in the right, new bike lanes are taking some getting used to for porteños who are used to only dealing with chaotic traffic. It is not uncommon for people to simply step out to cross the road without looking both ways, or to wait at an intersection standing right in the bike lane. Otherwise, get out there, feel the wind in your hair (no helmets required!), and enjoy all this city has to offer on two wheels.


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