Development of a Public Bike Scheme for Guatemala City

by Jaime Valdes Valverde

Guatemala City, is the capital and also the largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America, the metropolitan area had a population of 2.3 million inhabitants.
Nowadays Guatemala City has several problems, as the spatial segregation of the population and the distribution of the different usage given to the land, the disorganized growth of the city and the low population density of the metropolitan area and due to its transportation infrastructure has been developed to serve the automobile users which are the minority of the population. These problems have several effects like increased cost of public services, strong pressure on the environment, deterioration of the quality of life and increased loss of time, air and noise pollution, stress and energy consumption for the required daily mobility needs.

Guatemala City has begun the transition into a transportation oriented development, where bicycles could have a decisive effect. In recent years it has been seen how many countries in Europe, America and Asia have developed cycling networks and public bicycle schemes in order to obtain a sustainable transportation system.
Through this study it had been prove that City has a great potential to include cycling as a formal transportation mode. In order to facilitate the acceptance of a future public bike schemes, the Municipality of Guatemala should implement a series of measures to improve the urban environment for cycling. This includes policies that seek the promotion of non-motorized transportation, like traffic calming, secure parking facilities, information dissemination and education.

This work ascertains the suitability of implementing a PBS in Guatemala and it clarifies all the positive impacts that it could bring to the City, demonstrating that it not only offers riders flexibility and shorter trip times but also it can help reduce transportation congestion and pollution, lower costs, increase users health & fitness and generate a positive image of the city in the process.

Impacts Description
Promote urban cycling When introduced in an integrated strategy and it’s combined with other measures that make cycling safe and convenient.
Increase bike mode share Providing urban transportation option that meets the needs of many users and increases mobility choices
Encouraging intermodality Through the integration of Public Bicycle schemes in the Public transportation system.
Lower costs Implementation and operational costs are much lower compared to other feeder systems.
Improve public health by cycling Reduces air and noise pollution. Foster a healthy lifestyle creating opportunities for daily physical activities.
Strengthened local identity Normally accepted as part of the local cityscape and provide a sense of identity.
Increase of sustainable non-polluting mobility Decreases greenhouse gases, reduces traffic congestion and fuel usage.
Increase of traffic safety Trough more cycling infrastructure and users on the road

The findings of this study are clear, urban planning is affected in a positive manner through the promotion and implementation of the bicycle as transportation mean, and as it has been seen in many countries, the implementation of a Public Bicycle Scheme is the driving force promoting bicycles as sustainable transportation. This is because urban infrastructure must be modified in order to provide a safe environment for non-motorized users.
Currently Guatemala City doesn’t count with the basic non-motorized infrastructure, but through the master plan for cycling and the support of the POT (land use plan),a number of measures are bring up to consideration for providing a friendly urban environment. This enables the implementation of a Public Bike Scheme and through it full-fill the needs and targets of the transportation plan.

All the success factor are on favor to the local context of Guatemala City having tropical weather, flat topography, cycling culture, possibility of integration with the PuT and finally a future cycling Network that will provide safety and comfort for all the users.

The primary purpose of this study was to develop a Public Bike Scheme for Guatemala City. The following proposal of a public bike scheme for Guatemala City is based on the local context, the guide developed from this study and the different case studies analyzed during this research, as well as the master cycling plan generated on 2010.


Population 2.3 million Inh. Name Cicle Guate
Income 450 €
Per Month Generation 3rd
Service Area 15 Km2 No. Bikes 1000
Temperature 33.9 °C max No. Stations 75
20 °C Average Technology Smart Card
6°C Min Implementation cost / bike 2,060 €

The implementation of a bike rental system is one measure among others to encourage cycling as a sustainable transport mode. In European metropolises like Velib in Paris or Bicing in Barcelona provide a crucial impetus for the renaissance of the bicycle, under this moto the study was given to the department of mobility planning of the city, providing them value tools to enforce the bicycle use on the city. For more information about the Study contact