sábado, 30 de junio de 2018

The Pleasures of Shared Bike Lanes

Should bicyclists on this busy avenue in south-central Bogotá, near the Primero de Mayo, feel privileged? After all, this avenue has a special bike/bus lane, as well as 'bike boxes' for waiting safely at intersections.

But the reality doesn't match the theory. On the pavement, here's the cycling experience:

Lots of bicyclsts....
But lots of other vehicles in the exclusive bike/bus lane.
Strict exclusivity!

Can you spot the bicycle?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 21 de junio de 2018

Bogotá Public Bikes Plans Rolling Forward?

Public bicycles in Monteria, where they receive government support.
(Photo: La Razon)
El Tiempo reports that Bogotá's public bicycle program is actually moving forward - and shoul be rolling forward next year.

With luck, the public bike system will actually happen this time, after pilot projects which got nowhere and even a contract issued during the Petro administration, which from the start appeared viciated by corruption and unrealistic economics.

Unfortunately, Peñalosa's plan doesn't look so realistic either. He promises not to provide any public subsidies for the bicycle system, even tho they do receive such subsidies in many other cities, including even much wealthier ones than Bogotá.

That's because the bikes are conceived of as a public service, which pays back the city in benefits in health, reduced traffic congestion and less pollution.

In those cities where public bikes do not receive subsidies they do have wealthy corporate sponsors, often banks, such as Citibank in New York and Barclays in London. And those are also much wealthier cities than Bogotá, which receive many more tourists, who provide income for the system.

Besides all of that, cities subsidize bus and train systems, as well as private cars in many ways, such as subsidized gasoline. So, what's wrong with pitching in for public bicycles?

lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Just a Bike Rack....

I must have passed by this spot hundreds of times since the Museo Nacional TransMilenio station was completed without realizing the transcendent nature of what I was seeing.

Several TransMilenio stations have huge, sophisticated bike parking facilities. But most of the express bus stations have no bike parking at all, despite it being a standard feature of transit facilities all over the world. Is this just shortsightedness and ignorance? An exaggerated fear of someone hiding a bomb on a bike? Concern about taking responsibility for parked bikes?

Whatever the mistaken reason, the lack of racks reduced the system's usefulness for   cyclists, and certainly meant lost passengers.

This particular bike rack, I suspect, was not created specifically to serve the bus station, but for the pedestrian region surrounding it. But the rack nevertheless serves the bus station, showing that no-frills bike racks and buses are compatible.

By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

domingo, 20 de mayo de 2018

A Very Colombian Tour of California

Egan Bernal, champion of the Tour of California.
The annual Amgen Tour of California is a seven-stage race across the Golden State which serves as a warm-up for the Tour de France.

Even tho it's not particularly mountainous, Colombian riders dominated this year's edition:

- Egan Bernal, a native of Zipaquira, won the overall race, while fellow Colombian Daniel Martinez finished third.

- Fernando Gaviria, who is from La Ceja, Antioquia, took the final stage by millimeters in a sprint, his third stage victory in the race.

- Overall, Colombian riders won five of the seven stages.

If only they can pull off something similar in the Tour de France or another of the really big tours.

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


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