sábado, 20 de septiembre de 2014

Touring Through La Candelaria

By the Mercado de la Concordia, a traditional mariket.
This afternoon, the city carried out the first of what are supposed to be many cultural/historical bike tours of the city center, this one focused on women. It's an example of ways that the administration of Mayor Gustavo Petro is trying to promote bicycling in innovative ways - albeit small ones. It's also a nice way to get more use out of the bikes the city is lending on weekdays along Ave. Septima. 
Pedaling above Bogotá's skyline. 
But, unfortunately, the Petro administration has done little about the sort of urban troubles which make cycling unpleasant and dangerous, such as pollution and chronic traffic congestion. During the short tour thru La Candelaria, the group had to squeeze past sometimes aggressive cars on the always-congested Carrera 4. Later, we passed below the huge parking garage which the Externado University is building on Bogotá's Eastern Hills. Altho Petro has said many times that private car use should be restricted and clean transit encouraged, the city still approves projects like this monstrosity, which will only eliminate green space and compound traffic congestion and noise and air pollution in the city center.  

The event was sponsored by the Instituto Distrital de Recreación y Deporte (IDRD) and the Secretaría de la Mujer.

On Jimenez Ave., accompanied by TransMilenio.

On La Plaza del Periodista. 
Passing by El Mercado de la Concordia.
Squeezing along one of Bogotá's many perpetually congested streets.
The group rides below a monstrous parking garage which the private Externado University is building on Bogotá's hillsides. This project, like many others, will only worsen traffic congestion, and noise and air pollution in the city center.

On a La Candelaria street.
In la Calle del Embudo, near La Plaza del Chorro de Quevedo.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

lunes, 15 de septiembre de 2014

One Eye-Catching Uniform!

Members of the Colombian women's cycling team in their finest.
The Colombian women's cyclist uniform has made news this week, and you can see why. No, those athletes aren't naked - but their uniform makes look as if they were.

The team has reportedly been competing in the uniform - which was designed by a team member - for nine months, apparently without previous polemic. And I can see how, as a piece of fabric hanging in a closet the uniform appears innocent enough. But this official photo for the Tour of Tuscany, Italy generated unwanted attention.

The District Institute for Recreation and Sports (IDRD), which had reportedly approved the uniform, now disowns it. And the International Cycling Union calls it 'unacceptable.' No word yet from the team's sponsors, who are receiving much more attention than they'd expected.

Expect the team to appear at their next competition, in Spain, in something less flesh-colored around the midriff.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

martes, 9 de septiembre de 2014

Lending Bikes on La Jimenez

This morning, the city inaugurated a new line of its bicycle-lending program, along part of Jimenez Ave.

The expansion, overdue as it is, is an advance. (About two months ago, they created a line in El
Virrey Park in north Bogotá.) However, the line is so limited that it's almost more frustrating than anything else. The bikes will only be available between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the hours during which Mayor Petro has shut down TransMilenio bus service on La Jimenez, for god-only-knows what reason.

While the bikes are intended to partially replace the buses, they aren't available on San Victorino Plaza, which is the final working stop during the mid-day hours. Also, unlike Ave. Septima and El Virrey, which are flat, Jimenez has a grade, altho an uphill one.

This tiny additional bicycle service is also a reminder of the city's inaction on a long-promised city-wide public bicycles program. Recently, the deadline for placing the program out for bid passed without action.

Bogotá, once a pioneer in cycling in Latin America, is falling farther and farther behind cities such as Buenos Aires, Santiago, Chile and Mexico City.

Ready to ride? Public bikes in front of the San Francisco
Church, at the intersection of Ave. Septima and Jimenez.
Riding up Jimenez Ave. Unlike the other where bikes are lent, Jimenez has a grade, altho a mild one.
No bikes for me. The municipal potentates arrived at the inaugural event in armored SUVs.
The Museo de Oro Transmilenio Station sadly shut down near mid-day. Buses and bikes can coexist.
Cycling down La Septima on public lending bikes.
Bogotanos line up for public bikes on Ave. Septima.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

domingo, 17 de agosto de 2014

A Novel Concept: Bicycle Parking

Parking a bike. By 6 p.m. about 500 bikes had arrived, and there was room for lots more.
3,000 pesos, please.
For the first time in memory, the city arranged bicycle parking at a major event - the annual, free Rock al Parque concert happening this weekend in Simon Bolivar Park. So, why is this not routine?
They created parking and bicyclists came. When I visited around 6 p.m. Sunday afternoon some 500 bikes had arrived, and more kept rolling in. Cyclists paid a 3,000 pesos fee (about U.S. $1.50) and received a numbered receipt. The cyclist got a paper slip carrying the same number. The bikes were locked with a cable - but owners also had to affix their own locks. No lock, no bike parking, the attendants told me. 
The system's complex, but perhaps practical. A few lost bikes and the whole system would likely be trashed.

Why didn't the city provide such parking - which encourages cycling and clean transit - as well as making the
city money - years ago? For that matter, why doesn't the city really require bike parking at important destinations, such as supermarkets and public offices and more than a few TransMilenio stations? (Rather, there seems to exist a paranoia about bikes. The other day, I locked my bike on a sidewalk beside a private university in La Candelaria. When I returned some 20 minutes later, several security guards were waiting, up in arms. What's the meaning of this? they asked. After all, my bike might be carrying a bomb. I pointed out that the cars I often see parked beside the school could contain much, much larger bombs.)

So, it's a good thing...but it could be better. In the first place, the fee of 3,000 pesos seems excessive, especially when the city wants to promote cycling. The adjoining car parking lot charges flat fees of 7,500 pesos for cars and 5,000 for motorcycles (it doesn't accept bikes). Considering the tiny space a bicycle occupies, besides cycling's benefits, makes the bike fee seem disproportionate.

Room for thousands more bikes.
The 3,000 pesos is about the cost of two bus rides. If the city wants to shift Bogotanos to clean, healthy transport, it should give people an economic incentive to pedal. But thanks to Bogotá's neoliberal mindset - even with an ex-guerrilla in command - even programs benefiting health and the environment are supposed to generate profits (even while cars often receive free parking and subsidized fuels).

For that matter, why doesn't the park's car parking lot have a bike rack - as required by law?

And more bikes kept on arriving.
'Come to Rock al Parque by bike.'
I was also surprised by the highly processed, plastic-wrapped cakes that were given to cyclists. Why not give out instead apples or bananas or something else that's healthy?

The park's adjoining car parking lot doesn't accept bikes. 
'Don't bring your bike into the parking lot.'
The car parking lot's normal daily fee for cars is 1,000 pesos per hour. In comparison, the charge for bikes seems relatively high.
This avenue connecting the park to 26th Street badly needs a bike lane.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

lunes, 11 de agosto de 2014

Flipping and Flying for Cycling

This five-member French family bicycled from Bolivia to Colombia and have been earning a bit of money by performing acrobatics on Ave. Septima.

By Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

jueves, 7 de agosto de 2014

Who's a Bike Lane For?

Last night, cars created - and trapped themselves - in this traffic jam in La Candelaria.

Happily for them, however, the nearby bicycle lane provided a convenient detour.

'Bikes only.'

 And why shouldn't they? After all, just about everybody, including motorcycles, delivery carts, street vendors, and, of course, pedestrians, use Bogotá's 'bike' lanes.

A bike lane's a convenient place to pull a cart.
Motorcycle cops love a bike lane.
A bike lane's a nice place for a walk....
...or to set up a vending cart.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours