We recently took a trip down to Buenos Aires to escape the winter and to take in the city, culture and sunshine. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with many unique neighborhoods to explore by bike. The government has spent the past few years increasing cycling infrastructure and implementing the free Mejor en Bici bicycle share program. You can spot the bright yellow bikes being used in the downtown streets and along the 70+km of bike lanes throughout Buenos Aires. The system was initially set up for locals but now tourists can easily sign up to get a free bike on an hourly basis.
How to Use the Buenos Aires Bike share program Mejor en Bici (Better By Bike)
You will see Mejor en Bici bicycle share stations around the city including tourist destinations – they are grey mesh containers with yellow & green signs saying Ciudad Verde. Usually the horde of yellow bikes outside is another good indication you’re at the right place. We chose to borrow bikes at the Pacifico Palermo station (Avenida Santa Fe & Avenida Int. Bullrich) because of its proximity to a network of separated bike paths and parks. A great resource is the real-time map of stations that tracks how many bikes are available at each station.
To register all you need is your passport, a photocopy of your passport, your address in Buenos Aires and a valid phone number. It takes about 20 minutes to register. They will take your photo, request a password, and have you sign a waiver. I’ve heard they issue you an ID but were just given a number and told to use our password. Unfortunately our Spanish is limited so I didn’t get more information on if/when a proper ID card would be issued.
As we registered the 2 bikes available were taken by other riders but we only had to wait about 5 minutes for more 2 more bikes to show up. The station employees adjusted my seat and pumped up my tires. Unfortunately the bike wasn’t the best fit, but since there weren’t any other bikes to choose from I took what was available. The station did not provide helmets or locks and the bikes were only available in adult sizes. The bikes do have front baskets which are good for holding a lightweight bag or water.
Once you take the bike you have one hour to use it but you can take it to any Mejor en Bici station to add another hour when your time is up. When you are done you can drop it off at any open station. There are penalties for being late and because the system is computerized excuses don’t cut it.
We rode up the bike path (bicisendas) to Avenida Liberator and along the hipodrome, past the parks and up to the MALBA where we looped back. We were impressed with the smooth, well-marked and painted bike lanes. The bike paths are always two-way and quite narrow compared to North America bike lanes but work just fine. Pedestrians seemed to respect the path and other cyclist were courteous. Other areas I would suggest borrowing a bike include Puerto Madero and the parks around Recoleta (especially to get up close to the Floraris Generica). These areas look small on a map but when you get there you realize how spread out they are and a bike would be fantastic for exploring greater distances.
You can find up-to-date tourist information on biking in Buenos Aires at EcoBici. Currently the hours for the Public Bike Share are Monday through Friday 8 AM to 8 PM and on Saturdays from 9 AM to 3 PM.
If you’re interested in using a bike for more than an hour at at time there are plenty of bike rental locations in Palermo which is a great neighborhood for cycling. This would give you the added benefit of finding a bike that is properly fitted and having the option of a lock and helmet. Many businesses in Palermo are also making their sign boards into bicycle racks which makes finding a place to lock up quite easy.