miércoles, 25 de abril de 2018

A Visit to La Guarida

La Guarida's modest building 
is easy to pedal past.
 To get a feel for Bogotá's hip and high-end bicycle scene, you could do worse than visit La Guarida, a bike business complex located in Chapinero, across the street from the El Campin stadium.

Bicycling is all about balance!
From outside, La Guarida offers barely a hint about itself. The three-story light blue house could be a university rooming house, judging by the bicycles parked around the entrance and the bar on the first floor. However, the bar is outfitted with a cycling decor, and alongside it there's a small bike repair shop - evidently concentrating on high-end machines.

Climb the stairs to La Guarida's second floor and find the Biciosos bike shop, a small place but crammed with bike gear, including the sort of German-made bikes you'd better not take your eyes off of on Bogotá streets. In the other corner is a barber shop - also with a cycling decor. Are the haircuts here aerodynamic?
Bienvenidos a Biciosos.

The top floor holds a cycling jacket maker run by several French
guys. The reversible reflective MOVA Cycling jackets are nifty and innovative, either water proof or breathable, depending on how you wear them. They have integrated lights, their own stuff bag and hidden pockets to protect against those ubiquitous Bogotá pickpocketers. However, at several hundred thousand pesos, these jackets might get stolen themselves. Unsurprisingly, Mova exports most of its production.

Movi's sharp shirtwear.
Sharing the floor is Concienbiciate, whose name means something like 'integrate cycling into your consciousness,' and which lays claim to being Bogotá's largest bicycle activist organization. The colectivo definitely does turn out huge groups of cyclists - thousands, says a friend who is a member - who make racous rides thru Bogotá and the countryside. Hopefully, they can turn that momentum into pressure for more bike-positive city policies.

La Guarida: Cra 27 A Bis No 61C – 06, Bogotá, Colombia

Concienbiciate


Bikes hanging in La Guarida's entrance.


The first-floor bike workshop.

High-end bikes, for Bogotá.
Mova's slogan: Ride in Peace.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

domingo, 22 de abril de 2018

116 Street's New Bike Lane

Cyclists pedal up 116 Street's new bike lane - several wearing pollution masks.
Bogotá did a nice job on its newest bike lanes - but if only they were connected.

The Cicloruta de la Calle 116, inaugurated last week on International Bicycle Day, is nicely laid out,
A well-designed intersection.
protected from motorized traffic, has smooth road crossings and even some views. And it has not been invaded by street vendors - as of Friday, anyway.

Still, the lane shows some of the symptoms of the ills of Bogotá cycling: A lot of the cyclists wear facemasks, in probably futile attempts to filter out diesel particles. And, at Carrera 15 the lane simply ends, with no connection to another lane. (An adjoining street does have a meaningless sign: 'Shared use with bicycle priority.') The lane then reappears at Carrera 19 and continues to Carrera 50, for a total of 2.4 kms.

Cyclists, including Rappi messengers, wait to cross a street. But that thing on the left doesn't look like a bicycle. 
At Carrera 15, the lane simply ends.
The neighborhood's bike lanes seemed quite busy, at least on the late afternoon when I rode them. A government study reported that some 82,000 cyclists ride thru area every day. The number, while large, does seem believable. Which shows that bicycles are carrying a significant number of Bogotá commuters, altho the city's worsening traffic jams show that car use has increased as well.

When Mayor Enrique Peñalosa inaugurated the lane last week he said that Bogotá now has 500 kilometers of bike lanes, with 20 more projects under construction, which will total 40 additional kms of lanes.

Pedicabs near the lane. The mayor said that gasoline-powered
 cabs would be banned from the lane.
During the inauguration, Peñalosa also said that motorized bicitaxis would be banned from the new lane. Hopefully that will be enforced, and not only on this lane, but all of Bogotá's bike lanes. But he wants to allow pedal-driven cabs to use the lanes. Pehaps this also means that the city will finally crack down on the motorized bicycles, called bici-motos, which cruise the bike lanes as if they were bicycles.








Passing of the Autopista Norte, one long traffic jam.

And on my way back south, bike lane troubles:
Ills of Bogotá's bike lanes: On the way south, cycling down a sidewalk amids pedestrians.

Also on the way back south, an SUV driver doesn't think twice about stopping on a bike lane.
Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

miércoles, 18 de abril de 2018

The Poisonous Pleasure of Bogotá Bicycling!

Here it comes!
 Early this morning, I was pedaling north on Carrera Septima's bike lane, when I passed this SITP bus (sold to us as the solution to the city's pollution problem). Unfortunately for the suffering cyclist behind me, he or she didn't get past in time

Poor cyclist!
When the city announced a 'yellow alert' a few weeks ago warning of high air pollution levels,  envirobnmenal authorities promised to crack down and said that they had temporarily shut down highly polluting factories and fined thousands of 'rolling chimneys.' If that's true, then why we see these vehicles every day belching CO2 and smog into our eyes and lungs.

And here, a smog-belching schoolbus at a bike lane crossing.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

domingo, 15 de abril de 2018

Controlling the Motorized Bicycles?

A bicycle with a motor is a motorcycle.
A bici-motor crossing a
pedestrian plaza.
The other day, El Tiempo published this damning editorial denouncing the so-called 'bici-motos,' or bicycles with small gasoline motors mounted on them, which in plain terms are just small motorcycles.

El Tiempo points out that the "dangerous, illegal and polluting bicimotos" roar along the bike lanes in
"flagrant violation" of the laws banning them and exposing cyclists to dangers from these high-velocity vehicles.

The editorialist, who might not be a cyclist, doesn't mention how unpleasant cycling is when one is stuck behind one of these noisy, fume-spewing vehicles.

A bici-motorist (left) passing a line of bicyclists in a Bogotá bike lane.
"There is no justification for exposing cyclists to such dangers," the editorial concludes.

The problem with these vehicles is sympomatic of several Colombian infirmities: lack of law enforcement, apathy toward pollution and an absurd degree of legalism. The bici-motos enjoy  legal immunity thanks either to authorities' apathy or to the legal fantasy that motors smaller than a certain number of cubic centimeters are not really motors at all - even tho they're often noisier and more polluting than automobiles.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

martes, 27 de marzo de 2018

Mountain Biking with the I.D.T.

Recently, Bogotá Bike Tours helped the city's Instituto Distrital de Turismo carry out a series of mountain bike rides to promote the sport in the hills and towns surrounding Bogotá. And Bogotá's surroundings hold great rides waiting to be discovered: Big climbs and downhills, high-altitude wetlands, called paramos, and even jungles and coffee farms.

The view from the hills.
A tough road to ride!


A small-town church.

The bikes take a rest.

Hill riding.

Tough riding.


Riding thru lake country.



By Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours.



Escaping the Smog


Nicolas on top of the Cerro de Guadalupe.
In February, this group of friends rode up to the Virgen de Guadalupe statue 600 meters above Bogotá. (It's a challenging climb, but one which should only be done when police make it safe, as many bicycles have been stolen on the road up.)

I was struck by the way these sportspeople appear unaware of layer of smog blanketing the city, as tho they're so used to it that they don't ask whether it's right that we should be trapped in a layer of cancerous soot.

Nicolas, Cristian and a female friend.
Smog over the city.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours.

domingo, 4 de febrero de 2018

Bullfighting Reroutes La Ciclovia

'Turn right' during the bullfighting season.
During the past several Sundays and the next ones, Bogotá's Sunday Ciclovia is making an obligatory detour - for non-cycling motives.

Riding past a mural on Calle 26.
This is bullfighting season, which can mean big protests, which sometimes spill into violence. papa bombas and tear gas, or to keep people away from the plaza, or to give police freer action, the Ciclovia which normally goes along Carrera Septima, now instead detours west along Calle 26, jogs through the Teusaquillo neighborhood, and then turns right again to rejoin La Septima two blocks south of the Parque Nacional.
Whether it's to protect cyclists from
Watch out! Pedaling past a multi-bike accident
on Calle 26 underneath Carrera 13.

Some of the new route, such as 26th Street, was already part of La Ciclovia - but not obligatory for those riding along La Septima. The temporary route exposes more people to the delights of Teusaquillo, while depriving them of landmarks such as the Torre Colpatria, Museo Nacional and the Centro Bavaria. It also adds more risk. In three weekends rides I've witnessed the aftermath of two accidents in Calle 26's dark underpass.

Calle 26 passes by the famous
'Beso del Bronx' mural.
Bullfighting seems like a throwback to medieval times. Bullfighting does involve courage and skill, but any 'entertainment' involving stabbing animals to death just doesn't fit in a society which claims to value life. As for the protesters: More power to them. However, they ought to turn they attention and protests toward things like cockfighting and factory farming, which are much crueler and affect many more animals.

But, even if one stays agnostic about bullfighting, the fact is that Bogotá is expending tremendous amounts of money and resources to defend the pastime of a small minority of people, even if they do happen to be wealthy, conservative and influential. Besides inconveniencing the city's cyclists, Bogotá has also called out more than 3,000 police to keep the peace around the bullfighting stadium - police who must be paid and outfitted at taxpayer expense, and who could better be employed preventing crime.

Right or wrong, bullfighting inevitably generates protests, all of which cause huge inconvenience and expense for Bogotá. Why not leave all of this behind? Lots of other forms of enterntainment are available.

Cyclling along some Teusaquillo streets not normally part of La Ciclovia.




By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours