Photo Essay: Walking, Biking and Transit in Buenos Aires

A man rides in a protected bike lane in Buenos Aries. Analog photo: Andy Bosselman
A man rides in a protected bike lane in Buenos Aries. Analog photo: Andy Bosselman

Streetsblog Denver editor Andy Bosselman recently traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Check out his photos and observations related to the city’s mobility options.

Buenos Aires has many wide streets dedicated to auto traffic. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Buenos Aires has many wide streets dedicated to auto traffic. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Buenos Aires devotes enormous space to wide avenues which often spread to six or more lanes. Like in much of the world, its streets are often gridlocked But the city is walkable, bikable and accessible by commuter rail, a six-line subway system and 150 bus lines, according to Wikipedia.

Buses often barrel down narrow streets uncomfortably close to pedestrians on even narrower sidewalks. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Buses often barrel down narrow streets uncomfortably close to pedestrians on even narrower sidewalks. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Passengers wait for a bus on the sidewalk. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Passengers wait for a bus on the sidewalk. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Passengers wait to board at a Bus Rapid Transit station near the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Passengers wait to board at a Bus Rapid Transit station near the Obelisco de Buenos Aires. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Some of the city’s wide avenues have made room for Bus Rapid Transit, including this station on the 459-foot-wide July 9 Avenue. Buenos Aires launched BRT in 2011. The system has grown to four lines with 113 stations that extend 27 miles. The “surface subway” allows passengers to pay before boarding and enter and exit through all doors. “Level boarding” reduces time buses dwell at stops by allowing people to step or roll on and off the vehicle without a step up.

A man hands out flyers outside of a Subte green line subway station. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man hands out flyers outside of a Subte green line subway station. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man tries to steal a kiss on a crowded subway train. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man tries to steal a kiss on a crowded subway train. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The Buenos Aires subway, known as Subte, features six subterranean lines. With one overground line, the system features 100 stations across 37 miles of track. The city had an extensive network of tramways which were dismantled in the 1960s. Today, some tram lines are being restored.

The interior of a commuter rail car. Photo: Andy Bosselman
The interior of a commuter rail car. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A ticket for a one-hour commuter rail trip cost around $1.23.
Andy Bosselman

The Buenos Aires commuter rail system has seven lines that allow 1.3 million people to commute into the city daily. Commuter trains also connect to the country’s long-distance rail system which travel to Rosario, Córdoba  and other cities.

I took a one-hour commuter trip from the city center to Tigre for a fare of around $1.23.

 

A man rides an Ecobici bike share bicycle in a narrow, unprotected bike lane. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A man rides an Ecobici bike share bicycle in a narrow, unprotected bike lane. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The city’s free bike share program launched in 2010. It features 31 stations and around 850 bicycles.

A bike lane in the San Telmo district takes up half of the roadway. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A bike lane in the San Telmo district takes up half of the roadway. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A bike lane extends through an intersection. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A bike lane extends through an intersection. Photo: Andy Bosselman

Since 2009, Buenos Aires installed 121 miles of protected bike lanes, according to the Ammanik travel service. The level of bicycle traffic is nothing like in Copenhagen. But when you come across a bike lane, a few cyclists always seem to be using it.

Two pedestrians walk on a narrow sidewalk in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Two pedestrians walk on a narrow sidewalk in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Sidewalks are often in poor repair, even in high-profile areas like this location across from the Casa Rosada presidential mansion. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Sidewalks are often in poor repair, even in high-profile areas like this location across from the Casa Rosada presidential mansion. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A parklet outide of the Pride Cafe. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A parklet outside of the Pride Cafe. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A Sunday market fills Defensa Street near the Casa Rosada. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A Sunday market fills Defensa Street near the Casa Rosada. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A mural in Buenos Aires depicts a creature with a large beard. Analog photo: Andy Bosselman
A mural depicts a creature with a large beard. Analog photo: Andy Bosselman

Many Buenos Aries sidewalks are very narrow, some are in poor repair. But the city’s “Eclectic European” architectural styles, murals and street life make it a great place for walking.

Pedestrians cross a wide street in the rapidly developing Puerto Madero district. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Pedestrians cross a wide street in the rapidly developing Puerto Madero district. Photo: Andy Bosselman
"Puente de la Mujer," the women's bridge, provides a pedestrian walkway across the Rio Dresena Sur. Photo: Andy Bosselman
“Puente de la Mujer,” the women’s bridge, provides a pedestrian walkway across the Rio Dresena Sur. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Pedestrians cross the "Puente de la Mujer," the women's bridge. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Pedestrians cross the “Puente de la Mujer,” the women’s bridge. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A grain elevator in the fast-developing waterfront Puerto Madero neighborhood has been transformed into a public art installation. Photo: Andy Bosselman
A grain elevator in the fast-developing waterfront Puerto Madero neighborhood has been transformed into a public art installation. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Scooters are present but relatively rare outside of wide throughoufares like this waterfront area in the Puerto Madero district. Photo: Andy Bosselman
Scooters are present but relatively rare outside of wide thoroughfares like this waterfront area in the Puerto Madero district. Photo: Andy Bosselman

The city’s skyline is dotted with hundreds of high-rise buildings, including in the fast-developing waterfront Puerto Madero neighborhood.

I ended the trip with an Argentine steak and Malbec.
An Argentine steak and a Malbec wine.

An Argentine steak and glass of Malbec were a key part of the trip, which I followed with a traditional serving of Yerba Mate.


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