domingo, 23 de julio de 2017

When Bicycling Goes Bad

In the Parque Nacional, preparing for the race.
During a bike tour the other day we came upon this group of cycle racers preparing for a 'carrera de actividades,' sponsored by Bici Activa Radio, which entails pedaling fast to from destination to destination and performing some, probably silly, activity at each stop.

The bicycles are waiting.

I was surprised to see a number of cyclists smoking (tobacco) cigarettes. But I was soon to see that many of them didn't give much importance to life expectancies.

A smoke to prepare for the race.
While I and a group of tourists wait for the light to change in order to cross Carrera Septima, the racers come tearing out of the park.

And, with barely a moment's pause, race across busy Carrera Septima.

Stoplight's red? Traffic's coming?  No worries!

A motorcycle and a TransMilenio bus come roaring along.
Suddenly, a crashing sound!

A bicyclist is down.

And so is a motoryclist, who apparently swerved in panic to avoid the cyclist.

Showing no concern for the damage he's done, the cyclist gets up and pedals on, leaving the motorcyclist to repair his machine and himself. 

Another bicycle-hater is born. Can we blame him?
This is what gives cycling a bad name. I've gone thru my share of red lights and flown past stop signs, but generally when there's no traffic close by. 

This sort of dangerous, reckless riding, and total unconcern for others gives all cyclists a bad name.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

domingo, 11 de junio de 2017

A Real Bike Café: The Fuga Café + Bikes

The Fuga Café + Bikes, which actually repairs bikes.
Bogotá has had a mini-boom recently in bicycle-themed eateries. But for some of them, the bicycle is merely decoration.

A high-end racing frame, set among bicycling books,
mostly in English.
That's not true, however, for the awkwardly named Fuga Café + Bikes, tucked behind a building just off of 81st St. and around the corner from the 11th-St. Cicloruta, on the edge of La Zona Rosa (Calle 81 #11-55). Fuga means 'escape', as in a group of racers who escape from the pack.

Yuppies at work.
Besides the bicycle racing theme: glossy photo books (strangely, mostly in English), high-end bikes on display and constant bike races on the tele, the café also has a working bike repair shop, altho I suspect that the charges are a bit steeper than the repair outfits which set up on the sidewalk along the nearby bike lane. But the repairman appears to keep busy, and the café really is frequented by cyclists, judging by the bikes in the rack outside its window.

But if you go, get your wallet ready. A tea cost me 5,000 pesos - steep by central Bogotá standards, if
not necessarily by Zona Rosa standards, or for the yuppies inside pecking away at their laptops.

A working repair shop.
Energy foods, to keep those yuppies typing.

A TV streams bike races.
The Fuga café is out of the price range for most of the working class cyclists who abound on the nearby bike lane.

Cyclists wait to cross a street in the rain on the Carrera 11 cicloruta.

Around the corner, 14 Ochomiles and El Toma Corriente make this something of a cycling district.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

sábado, 10 de junio de 2017

A Tale of Two Ciclorutas

Pedaling past congested cars on Carrera 11's bike lane.
Rush hour on the bike lane. 
The Cicloruta, or bike lane, which runs up carreras 13 and 11 from the Museo Nacional to Calle 100 represents and best and worst in Bogotá bicycle infrastructure. So much, that it's more accurately two bike lanes stitched together.

The 18-block stretch between calles 82 and 100 are wide, clear and smooth: great for cyclists' self-esteem - particularly when one is sailing past cars jammed against each other. Perhaps the sight of us free and fast cyclists will persuade a few drivers to emerge from their steel cans.

But even on the bike lane, cars cause problems. Here, waiting for a traffic jam to clear.
South of Calle 82, riding around a car
stopped across the sidewalk bike lane.
South of 82nd street, however, the bike lane shifts onto the sidewalk, where cyclists must dodge pedestrians and delivery vehicles, not to mention cars waiting at stop signs and the occasional dog. As bad as it is for the cyclist, this arrangement must be more miserable for the poor pedestrian, who steps across the sidewalk only to have a furiously pedaling commuter rush past them. And the cyclist feels like an interloper, a bully rushing between pedestrians and swerving around them.

Sidewalk riding can be crowded.

A ´puddle and broken pavement.

Amphibious cyclilng, anyone?

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 8 de junio de 2017

These Bikes Make a Handy....Tent

A tent where a bike repair stand used to be.
On a soggy afternoon, with few flats needing patching, a pair of bike repair guys on the Carrera 11 sidewalk, in front of the Universidad Pedagogica, flipped over their bikes, tied a plastic sheet between them, and retired to nap, play cards or whatever, until the evening rush hour brought more customers.

These guys are part of a growing industry of bike repair stands along Bogotá's bikeways.

Give them credit for inventing something which is just as dry as North Face, and lots cheaper and quicker to assemble.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 1 de junio de 2017

Petro for President? A Cycle Policy Perspective.

For years, Plaza San Victorino has hosted this bike rack, which sometimes contains one or two bikes.
Gustavo Petro, a one-time M-19 guerrilla leader, was Bogotá mayor from 2012 to '15, and now wants to be elected president.

From a cyclists perspective, his record is mixed.

Take a look at Plaza San Victorino, which for years had a small bike rack which sometimes held one or two bicycles.

What was wrong with that? A lot, according to someone connected to the Petro administration, who decided that the plaza needed dozens and dozens more bike parking spots.

These Petro bike racks on Plaza San Victorino actually found users.

But this one didn't.

Finally, a bike in this rack.
Another rack, around the corner, provides seating for tired street vendors. 
I guess you get the point. Petro's government issued a contract to install bike racks, but didn't care or didn't bother to check where they actually installed them. So, naturally, the contractor installed them where it was easiest and cheapest, not where they were useful.

Along the same lines, Petro's administration also issued a contract to create a public bicycle system - to a man who had no experience with bicycles and did have a history of corruption accusations, in a consortium with a Chinese company with not apparent experience with bicycles.

The contract was annulled by Mayor Peñalosa, and Bogotá still has no public bikes.

On the other hand, under Petro the city did build some useful bike lanes, called ciclorutas.

A Petro-era cicloruta along El Parkway in Teusaquillo.
Petro also created a limited bike lending program, called Bicicorredores, which lent bikes in six locations in Bogotá. Unfortunately, bikes borrowed in one location could not be returned in another, limiting the program's usefulness for transport. Mayor Peñalosa ended the program, calling it too expensive. 

Public bikes lent out during the Petro administration, now parked for the long-term.
Overall, Petro did some things for cyclists, but many of his initiatives were poorly thought-out or apparently full of corruption. All of which makes one question his sincerity and dedication.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

domingo, 28 de mayo de 2017

Second's Not Bad!

Nairo Quintana, 2nd place, winner Tom Dumoulin, of Denmark and third place finisher Italian Vincenzo Nibali
In the end, Dutchman Tom Dumoulin showed why he's known as a great time trialer by beating Colombian Nairo Quintana by well over a minute in today's final stage and vaulting into first place in the Giro d'Italia.

Sure, Quintana might have ridden more aggressively in the mountain stages and possibly built up the more than a minute's lead going into today's time trial which he needed to hold off Dumoulin. But such risky, aggressive riding might also have lost it all for Quintana, keeping him off of the podium altogether. Yesterday, after all, the guys at the Telegraph newspaper's Cycling podcast speculated that other contenders could keep Quintana off of the podium altogether.

As it is, Quintana now adds a second place finish to his 2014 victory in the Giro, his victory in the
Añadir leyenda
Vuelta a España and second and third-place finishes in the Tour de France, as well as victories in many lesser races. That makes Quintana one of the great riders of his generation and one of the greatest-ever Colombian bike racers. He is only the second-ever Colombian after the legendary Luis Herrera to win one of the three Grand Tours (Spain, Italy and France).

And Quintana was not the only Colombian to excel in this year's Giro. Sprinter Alejandro Gaviria won four stages and was the overall points leader.

Quintana is the leader of a generation of young Colombian cyclists who are making their homeland one of the world's great cycling nations.

The Giro d'Italia's Final Classification.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

sábado, 27 de mayo de 2017

Hang On There Nairo!

Today's El Espectador newspaper celebrates Nairo's lead.
Colombian Nairo Quintana is wearing pink, but has a fight ahead of him to keep it on. Quintana fouoght and won the pink in Italy's mountains, his specialty, and has a 38 second lead over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin.

Nairo exults in wearing pink.
Now, the Giro de Italia has one stage left, but it is a time trial - Dumoulin's specialty. Dumoulin has to gain just over a second per kilometer tomorrow to beat Quintana, and presumably the rest of the contenders. Frenchman Thibaut Pinot, at 53 seconds back, and Russian Ilnur Zakarin, 1 minute 21 seconds back, are also threats to Quintana's chances for a podium spot, according to the Telegraph newspaper's bike racing podcast.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours