ELQUI “GREENWAY” PEDALEABLE
(1) Ex strip of line in Pelícana © Pedaleable.org. for LOFscapes / (2) Ex strip of line in Marquesa © Pedaleable.org. for LOFscapes / (3) Ex strip of line in El Molle © Pedaleable.org. for LOFscapes / (4-7) Ex strip of line, section El Molle to El Almendral © Pedaleable.org. for LOFscapes
The project Elqui Pedaleable consists of recovering a disused railway line as a multipurpose path, which would go from La Serena to Rividavia, 90 km to the interior of the Elqui Valley. Proposing a different way of relating to the surrounding landscape through a conscious, leisurely trip without the threat of distraction by motorized vehicles.
The Elqui branch, important railway infrastructure in use between 1884 and 1975, was key in the development of the Valley and the cities and towns surrounding its tracks. When in 1986 the line was dismantled, a century after it was completed, the line was reduced to a historical vestige. People moved mainly along the highway, which followed a different route than the old train line on the south side of the Elqui. In some cases, the abandoned line served as a public road and in others, it was closed by private interests. Some stretches were expropriated or even flooded, as happened with the waters of the Puclaro reservoir. Most of the rail strip and the stations continue to be in good condition. In this context, the Elqui Pedaleable project proposes to convert the line to a Greenway: a non-motorized mobility corridor that joins the concept of railway heritage conservation with a new model of rural development based on sustainable tourism.
The project proposes a unique relationship with the landscape that differs radically from the most common tourism alternatives in the Valley and even in the rest of the country. The gentle slope of 1.5% on average is apt for an agile, but at the same time tranquil journey through diverse landscapes, and geographical and cultural contexts. The visitor will traverse a wide variety of sites from rocky slopes to agricultural plains, stone tunnels, bridges, and tours of cities and towns with a rich heritage such as Vicuña, El Molle, Diaguitas and others. The absence of motorized vehicles would allow for contemplative movement completely immersed in the medium, favoring carefree enjoyment of the nearby textures and the majestic panoramic views.
In addition to the experience described, the purpose of the project is to establish a platform for social development, capable of highlighting rural ways of life, the natural environment, and railroad heritage bringing together new ways to appreciate the territory and its progress. In this context, the bicycle is not only a means of transport, but also a tool that supports the development of a society aware of its culture and the territorial richness in which it is located, activating the economy through local and international tourism, while offering a public space for the daily life of those who live in the area. We hope with this proposal to add thousands of kilometers of greenways to our territory, as has happened in countries with more experience in relation to this type of infrastructure.
Ignacio Abé is an architect from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. He currently works in the Pedaleable Corporation <pedaleable.org> whose objective is to incentivate the use of non-motorized transport through strategic projects. The organization aims to connect citizen, public and private interests through its initiatives.