Toll Roads and Cyclists in Latin America

Cyclists occasionally ask us about our experience on toll roads in Latin America, so I thought I'd give a little overview. We've ridden on many of them without trouble.

Throughout Latin America roads have been "privatized", giving a concession to a private company to operate them for a period of years. In general, this means better maintenance on the roads.

We have never been asked to pay a toll on any of the roads we've traveled from Mexico to Argentina. However, we have heard of cyclists being required to pay on some roads in Mexico.

Also in Mexico, we avoided the toll roads but occasionally took them. (We find that the toll roads there are fast and fancy, but you get no sense of the culture of the country.) There was one road (from Pueba to Oaxaca) that was rumored to exclude cyclists. Also, the road from Tijuana to Rosario in Baja California is supposed to rigorously exclude cyclists, forcing them onto a very dangerous, narrow alternate.

In our experience, though: We haven't been excluded from any toll roads, and we haven't been charged tolls.

On occasional, in Mexico and again in Peru, there were specific procedures they wanted us to take when approaching a toll booth. They did not want us to go through the auto lane (because we'd register on a camera?) but rather go completely around the toll booth installation. One time in Mexico, not understanding this, I approached too close and the guard did raise his gun for my benefit.