Moving the planet: The beat quickens in Buenos Aires

"Un dia para alejarse de comustibles fosibles"

In Day Two of our series on Moving Planet Day organizers and events around the world (check out yesterday's chat with San Francisco MPD planner Morgan Fitzgibbons), we're taking it south to Buenos Aires. 

You might remember Matias Kalwill, founder of the bike-art website La vida en bici, from my article this summer on his city's emerging bike culture. Since we last checked in, Kalwill has become the leading bike advocate in his city of nearly 13 million people. Over the last few months, Kalwill and his La vida en bici team have been painting a plaza not far from where he grew up. Their goal is to make Plaza Luna de Enfrente -- which already includes a playground for the neighborhood kids -- the first "bicifriendly" plaza in Buenos Aires. It'll make a great backdrop for the day of political action and personal development that Kalwill and the Moving Planet Day organizers have planned.

Check out what Saturday will feel like in Argentina -- we caught up with Kalwill via email last night in the middle of his pedal-powered preparations. Check in next week when we'll hear about how the day went from an organizer in Austin, Tex. as well as other places around the globe. 


SFBG: What is your role in your city's Moving Planet Day events?

MK: I’m organizing the event. I invited Greenpeace Argentina, FARN, ITDP, and other NGO’s to participate. I’m also hosting a conference on “biking for sustainable development” and am the main author of the project proposal letter that will be handled to representatives of the National Congress on Saturday. I wrote the series “Moving Cities” for Treehugger Latin America, which had support from addressing urban mobility and the road to the MP events in Latin American cities.

Matias Kalwill and David Byrne on the musician and bike activist's recent trip to Argentina. 

SFBG: What inspired you to get involved?

MK: The chance to put on a high impact action connecting bikes and sustainability. The opportunity to share a common effort with people from all over the world. Bill Mckibben’s work, wich is amazing. Previous’s events in which I participated. The idea that we could share what’s happening in Buenos Aires with the rest of the country.

Buenos Aires' Plaza Luna de Enfrente with it's bici-friendly makeover -- ready to go for Sat/24's festivities. 

SFBG: What does your city have planned for Saturday?

MK: We will be doing live art and music and conferences and personal workshops in the Plaza Luna de Enfrente, and then a ride to deliver a project proposal to representatives of the National Congress. The proposal aims to have urban cycling declared “of interest for the sustainable development of the country” by the Congress and can be read here. If eventually this project is aproved by the Congress, it will become a tool for local bike advocates, politicians, and activists all over Argentina. Awesome!


SFBG: How many people are expected to attend?

MK: I’m guessing 50 to 200.


SFBG: Why is this such a big deal?

MK: I feel it’s another step forward in the road to urban sustainable mobility. In this case, it's a big one since there will be so many people doing similiar things at the same time. And because so much energy from all over the world will be focused on a few ideas it will be a strong push to get more people involved in the positive and urgent changes we are riding for.


SFBG: What do you hope that this day achieves?

MK: More visibility for these problems and more commitment to the solutions for sustainable mobility and climate change.


SFBG: How will you transport yourself to the festivities?

MK: With my dear bike of course!


SFBG: Complete this sentence: We can reverse the causes of man-made climate change if we...

MK: Come up with exciting and accessible ways to engage people in low-impact city life. Bikes are an excellent example of this: make it sexy and sustainable and available, and the hype is on!


Moving Planet Day Bay Area

Sat/24 10 a.m.-6 p.m., free

March starts at Justin Herman Plaza, SF

Afternoon activities at Civic Center Plaza, SF