Cycling In Lima

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Sergio Bernales
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Cycling In Lima

Postby Sergio Bernales » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:09 pm

I recently heard about a friend's young daughter who was hit by a cyclist on the pavement/sidewalk outside their house and had to go to hospital, nothing serious thankfully. However, the way it happened seemed pretty disturbing. The cyclist, a respectable looking person, late 20s, with a nice bike and all the latest gear, was cyling at speed when it happened and got away as fast as he could after hitting the kid. Didn't offer to help, nothing. Unlike a car, it was impossible to get a make or model of the bike, let alone get a registration number. Serenazgo were sympathetic but uninterested, so it's probably impossible to find him, or even take any legal action against him. So, this incident aside, does anyone know what the laws are against cycling on the pavements here? Or is it going to take a few injured (or even dead) children or old people to get the tabloids up in arms and get the municipalities to do something? I mean, even putting up a few signs might help.

I say this as I don't think it's a one-off. In the last few years, I've noticed many, many more cyclists in Lima than in the past and most use the pavement, not the road. Worst of all, most generally expect pedestrians to jump out the way, rather than slow down, let alone dismount. Nobody I talk to here seems to care - unless it happens to them or their family. Even among expats, I remember Alan making a comment about how he enjoyed riding on the sidewalks/pavements here in Lima - shame on you - I hope you no longer do this. Anyone want to play devil's advocate and stand up for cyclists? I mean, I know the roads are dangerous for cyclists, but why make the pavements/sidewalks just as bad?


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sbaustin
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Re: Cycling In Lima

Postby sbaustin » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:08 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head. Where else will a cyclist be able to ride their bike safely? Unfortunately it is to the detriment of the pedestrians. What bothers me the most is when there is a bike lane but the cyclist is still on the sidewalk. Anyways, since the police here don't really enforce any laws for motorists, they won't care about the cyclists.
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Re: Cycling In Lima

Postby caliguy » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:38 pm

sorry to hear about the little girl Sergio :( i have noticed an increase in cyclists as well. what i have noticed, as well as any other mode of transportation, is people just aren't very observant. have you ever seen someone walking out of a store directly onto the sidewalk? and a cyclist just misses them? this post brings memories of teamoperu's post on "they walk like they drive".
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Re: Cycling In Lima

Postby Sergio Bernales » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:42 pm

sbaustin wrote:I think you hit the nail on the head. Where else will a cyclist be able to ride their bike safely? Unfortunately it is to the detriment of the pedestrians. What bothers me the most is when there is a bike lane but the cyclist is still on the sidewalk. Anyways, since the police here don't really enforce any laws for motorists, they won't care about the cyclists.


Yeah, that's what got me. If you're not in Lima, you think, good on 'em more bikes, better for the environment and public health. But living here, you think, my health is going to suffer when you knock me over, or my family. Get off the f...ing pavement before you hit me, my wife my child, my mother! And they don't care. It's hacer criollada.

Greg, thanks for your comments, but surely we can walk out of our homes, out of shops without worrying if some lunatic is going to knock us over and kill us. Surely, that's the purpose of the sidewalk/pavement, it's to save from wheeled vehicles driving at speed otherwise we'd just walk out on to the road.

I also worry that this is just a deep cultural malaise which we can do nothing about, hacer criollada. Civic society needs to get stronger here, so that people actually care about their environment and as it stands, I think the quality of life in Lima is getting worse. It just seems to get noisier, more building works, more cars on the road, more horns honking. As it is, the roads and driving standards are terrible. I fear for my life crossing the road sometimes, so even a little thing like bikes on the pavement contribute to the malaise. So both roads and pavements are now a source of danger... Maybe I'll start writing letters to the alcalde about keeping cyclists and getting more cycle lanes and banning them from sidewalks/pavements. As I said, the sad thing is to get anything done about it, some tragedy will probably have to happen before people take notice.
Last edited by Sergio Bernales on Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Alan
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Re: Cycling In Lima

Postby Alan » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:51 pm

Wow... a "disgrace". Okay... I can't speak for all cyclists, but I will speak for myself. First.. regarding the little girl. That's very sad, but that is a reflection of the rider that hit her, not the community of cyclists, or even on the cyclists who need to ride on the sidewalk. Clearly the guy that ran into the girl is a jerk, and if he were driving a car, maybe he would have also driven away, too. Not an uncommon occurrence here, actually. You also say he was riding at speed, so he was pretty reckless.

Clearly cyclists should not ride on the sidewalk when there are other safe options, but I really think sometimes it is necessary. For example, a classic case of high risk for a cyclist is when he or she is riding beside a line of cars waiting for a stop-light, because thanks to the high number of taxis here, it is frequent to have doors open right into you. Also, there are a huge number of jay walkers here who come out from in front to stopped trucks or busses, and right into the rider. Then there is the fact that roads are very narrow here, and drivers sometimes pull into neighboring lanes or take corners at intersections without warning. Last year I was hit by a guy who, without any warning at all, went from a dead stop into a right turn and pushed me into a light pole. My pedal took the brunt of the blow, but it was a close call and clearly his fault.

The other time I'll ride on a sidewalk, and probably some other cyclists do too, is if there is a one way street that needs to be taken for a block or two. If I do that, I'll do it safely, but still, this is more for my own convenience and not for safety, so, my bad. You made me realize I should stop doing it. It's a bad example, and not really necessary.

Do you ride a bike Sergio? It can be a pretty amazing experience. I can often travel short and mid distances faster than cars in rush hour. It is a really liberating experience. I get the feeling that a lot of people don´t realize just how convenient a bike can be. I really hope that bicycles soon become a big part of the solution to the terrible traffic in Lima. This city has a lot going for it for a cyclist: there are not many hills, there is no rain, and the climate allows for riding year round. You are right though, bike riders need to be conscious of pedestrians. I just hope that cars can become more conscious of bikes, too. Traffic here is changing.. long-boards zipping down the street, and now a ton of motorcycles, too.

Anyway, I really hope things work out for the girl. What a scare.
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Re: Cycling In Lima

Postby Sergio Bernales » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:27 am

Alan, my apologies, disgrace was too strong a word. I was a bit worked up about the issue. I know in these cases that it's best to sleep on it and write a considered response the day after rather than fire off the first thing that enters my brain. I guess that's the problem with the internet and forums, perhaps we don't take enough time to consider our comments. I'll amend the comment and again thanks for your comments. It's good to see the other side of things from someone who takes both cycling and the welfare of pedestrians seriously. If only more people thought that way...

By the way, I used to love riding my bike. I used to go out to national parks with special cycle tracks and when a few friends went with me, it was amazing. Even alone, I enjoyed it. I also used to cycle to work in London. Yes, traffic was terrifying sometimes, so I'd cut through the park and take back streets to avoid traffic and riding on pavements - yes, the the thing with car doors opening, wow, that was always a danger, especially in the quiet streets. A friend of mine was badly injured by that. The rain was a bit of a problem. Turning up soaking wet to work wasn't fun. A change of clothes was pretty necessary.

I suppose in a city where people respect rules cycling on the pavement can be okay when no one else is around and when there are so few proper cycle lanes, but you can't predict the behaviour of pedestrians. People walk out their house without a thought that a fast-moving object is going to hit them. So cyclists need to slow down a lot firstly and, if they see pedestrians, then got at walking speed or even dismount, especially if there are old people or children. Think how unpredictable children are. But very few people do that in Lima. Most think they have right of way and don't care about pedestrians. Yeah, not everyone, I've seen some cyclists behave well, but far too very few. The thing is people cycle on the sidewalks/pavements here in much the same way they drive as far as I can see. To paraphrase Greg's comment, they cycle like they drive. Apart from a polite few, all I see is an attitude of get out the way or I'll hit you. And it's not as if there's much space on the sidewalks here. Perhaps if self-driving cars come to Lima and there are dedicated cycle lanes throughout the city, then things may get a lot better. I really hope so. But for now...jeez!

A few years ago, if I saw a bike on the pavement in Lima, I thought so what? But then it was kind of a rare occurrence. And most of the cyclists seemed to be poor people carrying stuff on their bike and it was an essential work tool. But now it's really in fashion to cycle and the infrastructure hasn't caught up, or even cultural manners and every time I leave the house, there's some lunatic hurtling towards me. And when I hear about friends' children being hit and the cyclist doing a runner, well, that is a disgrace.

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