Santiago, the Chilean capital with an urban population of five million, and a metro area population of over seven million, is a beautiful old-world city enjoying a modern day renaissance. In 2006, the city opened Transantiago, an efficient service and the backbone of its transport system, but has since lagged behind other cities in the region on cycling and walking.
Over the past year, Santiago made major improvements in pedestrian space, cycling, and public transit. Windhoek has modernized, expanded, and regulated their bus system, and Curitiba improved access to the city for people with disabilities, created a transport data system, and implemented an electric bike share system. All three cities will be honored at an award ceremony in Washington, DC in January 2017 during the Transport Research Board annual meeting.
Santiago’s Calle Aillavilú, in the central market of the city, has been transformed from a derelict, car-congested and unregulated parking lot to a pedestrian-friendly oasis. The street was repaved, the lighting improved, new trees were planted, and most importantly, cars were removed. Except for the scheduled delivery of goods, no motorized traffic is allowed. Calle Placer, one of the busiest pedestrian streets during a popular weekend market, is now completely closed to cars on the weekends, with a 2.2 million USD investment by the city for improved sidewalks, lighting, and sanitation.
Other public space improvements include the re-design of the Historical Center’s main streets, and a “complete streets” redesign for public transport exclusive corridors in the most active pedestrian zone in the country.
The City has backed up these achievements with new sustainable transport policy changes and education programs. This includes a pilot program of cycling games in kindergarten to help introduce cycling early in life and a traffic education program at primary schools is helping create better cyclist behavior. The city has managed to increase cycling trips from a negligible 150 per day to over 5000 per day, with the growing popularity of BikeSantiago, the city’s bike share program. Santiago also gave support to BMov Trici, a free bicycle taxi in the historic city center.
“We received many interesting nominations this year, but Santiago stood out for their wide range of achievements, and demonstrates the benefits of a strategic focus on improving walking conditions as a top priority,” said Michael Kodransky, Chair of the Sustainable Transport Award Committee, “We look forward to spotlighting Santiago in the coming year as an international best practice.”
“We are proud of this recognition to the municipality, but it’s certainly also recognition to the whole city. We have been actively promoting coordination processes with Santiago’s Board of Public Transportation, the Ministry of Environment, the Regional Government, civil society organizations and other municipalities” said the Mayor of Santiago, Carolina Tohá, “Thanks to this coordination and collaboration we have been able to move forward in local projects with greater metropolitan impact, such as the System of Public Bicycles, the Plan Centro, the Green Zone and to double the bicycle’s path network”.
Santiago will be the site of Mobilize 2017, ITDP’s new annual Sustainable Transport Summit, supported by the Volvo Research and Education Foundations. This event will give international transportation researchers and professionals an opportunity to experience this emerging city as a learning lab for best practice in sustainable transport.
For more information, visit staward.org.