miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2009

Happy Birthday Ciclovia?

So, the other week, Bogotá's famous Ciclovía celebrated its 35th birthday the other day. This Bogotá institution began with a few cyclists riding a several-block-long circuit along Seventh Ave., and has expanded into a major source of pride and recreation for millions of Bogotanos, and has been imitated (but not equalled) in other city, with names such as Via Verde and Sunday (or Summer) Streets. 

Unfortunately, recent mayors have not given Bogotá's Ciclovia the importance and priority that it deserves and needs to continue playing such an important role for the health and recreation of millions of Bogotanos. 

Last year, without public consultation, the city government suspended La Ciclovia along one of its major avenues, 26th St., because of work for expansion of the city's Transmilenio express bus system. To many of us, it seems that La Ciclovia could have continued functioning on 26th St. 

Now, many of us are worried that the same story will be repeated on 7th Ave., which is La Ciclovía's most popular, important and visible section. ÇWithout either Seventh Ave. or 26th St., La Ciclovia will be barely a shadow of its full self, millions of people will lose access to their recreation and hundreds of people who sell foods or services along the route will lose their incomes. 

The other day, I met with officials of the District's Institute of Recreation and Sport (IDRD), to talk about this and other issues. unfortunately, I left feeling less confident than ever in La Ciclovia's future. Will the Ciclovia be given an alternative, parallel route during construction on Seventh Ave.? Well, the officials told me, they've asked for one, but the decision is not up to them. I saw no sign that they had taken any sort of real stand to defend this institution which benefits so many people in Bogota. Similarly, I haven't seen mobilization on the part of the hundreds of informal vendors who depend on the Seventh Ave. Ciclovia for an important part of their income. Unfortunately, this sort of resignation in the face of the 'inevitable' and the decisions of authorities seems to be characteristic of Colombian society. 

Similarly, when I asked the officials about dealing with the growing problem of motor-powered bicycles producing noise and pollution on La Ciclovia, they basically shrugged their shoulders and said they had no legal way of excluding these machines. Are SUVs next?

Let's just hope that the Ciclovia survives to see more 'Happy Birthdays.'

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2009

But just don't call it a Ciclovia!
Dec. 10 was Bogotá's famous 'Ciclovia Nocturna,' or Nocturnal Ciclovía. Besides being at night, there was another difference between it and the normal Sunday/holiday Ciclovías - Seventh Ave. was so crowded that you could hardly walk, much less cycle, on it! Bogotá's world-famous Ciclovia is a wonderful institution. And so is this evening, when major avenues are taken from cars and given to the people. But this once-a-year event should better be called a pede-via or caminatavia.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2009

Bicycles Near the Seat of Power

This group of bikes on the steps of Colombia's Congress invites reflection on why it is so seldom that bicycles and cyclists ever get near the seat of power, either physically or politically. 

These bikes also illustrate something else - bicycles' healing power. They are being ridden by a group of soldiers injured by land mines placed by guerrilla groups - part of the tragedy of Colombia's destructive war. Many have lost legs or feet, but they can still use bicycles. 

Tragically, bicycles have also been used as weapons in Colombia's war - there have been several cases of bicycle bombs.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours and Rentals

viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2009

Bringing Curry to Colombia by Bike!

In 1972, Arun Pal left Calcutta for Munich on a bicycle and ended up in Bogotá in 2009 running an Indian food restaurant. Read his whole story in The City Paper.

Does he still ride a bicycle? The world wants to know!

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours and Rentals.

sábado, 21 de noviembre de 2009

See the world without windows.

An article in Bogotá's El Tiempo newspaper profiles two cyclists, who lament the state of some of the city's Ciclorutas, their disconnectivity, the lack of parking and the inconsideration of many motorists. A city official responds that some Ciclorutas are being extended and that the city's electrical utility intends to move posts located in the middle of some cycle routes.

My comments, as always, are that the troubles with Bogotá biking go deeper than these inconveniences. They include chaotic traffic and pollution. 

Bogotá DOES have the region's best bicycle route network and deserves credit for that. however, the city could and shoud do much more to make the city more bikeable if it wants this clean trasnport to help resolve its traffic jams and clean its air. 


This blog is written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

Tucson Bike Lawyer

Last week, we were visited by Erik Ryberg, a lawyer and bicyclist from Tucson, Arizona, who writes a blog called (of all things) TucsonBikeLawyer.com. Erik took a guided tour of the city's bike routes, rode on his own and rode in the famous Ciclovia. His impressions were varied - from admiration of some cycle routes and the Ciclovia, to disgust at the pollution and some unusable bike paths. 

Here's our conversation:

What are your general impressions of bicycling in Bogotá?

"The first thing I noticed compared to Mexico is the number of women on bicycles. In Mexico it's very rare to see women on bicycles. In all the time in Mexico I can only remember one woman on a bicycle. Commuting. Many ride do in their Ciclovia. 

"I also found the drivers really courteous. Compared to Tucson. In Tucson it's really common to find drivers going fast ride really close to you. In Tucson I was terrified of being hit from behind. In Bogotá, drivers do cut you off by turning in front of you. But being struck from behind wasn't a concern. 

"I actually didn't feel less safe here than in Tucson. In lots of ways I felt more safe. 

"And the Ciclorutas, given the constraints any city has, I thought they did a pretty good job. In the north they're beautiful, separated from the streets and so forth. That's not to say there aren't embarrassing places where they end, where they force you to do something dangerous, where there's a big hole in the route. I rode one where it was impossible to ride on the path because of the pedestrians. They put the cicloruta exactly where the (pedestrians) need to be. It's just a terrible design." 

And how about the pollution here?

"It's horrible. It's as bad as Mexico City. Pollution here is as bad as any place I've ever been. I was in Rome in the '70s and it's as bad as that. On Saturday it was a dystopia; the cars weren't moving at all and they were belching fumes." 

My observation: Well, hopefully it's not actually as bad as Mexico City. To its credit, the Colombia's state petroleum company has, very tardily, been reducing the sulfur content of the diesel fuel and the city has been trying, tho not nearly hard enough, to enforce emissions laws and to buy up and junk old, dirty buses. 

I expressed to Erik my frustration that so many things here just do not function sensibly: The city builds bike paths, but some are unuseable. There's little bike parking, and the expensive, new bike parking facility built near my neighborhood has never opened, years after construction...Erik tried comforting me by comparison with Tucson:

"We have a broken system in Tucson just like you have in Bogotá. We have a Ciclovia that's supposed to happen in March and may or may not happen. I want people to know what a Ciclovia is and for them to make an informed decision about it." 

But Bogotá, a city of eight million people, has no bicycle activist community! In relatively tiny Tucson, there is.

"In Tucson there's a lot of bike activists. There's a spontaneous ride every Tuesday night. The police tried to stop it, but didn't have much luck. I ended up representing a lot of people who got arrested or ticketed in that. It's not designed to aggravate drivers. We do our best to just take up one lane and stop at stop signs. We all ring our bells.

"We're winning: We're getting more and better bike infrastructure for sure. We're getting more respect from the police. When cyclists are hit by cars, the police don't automatically blame the bicyclist. There are just more and more of us. It's becoming a more legitimate way to get around town.

"You can put a bike on the bus. Tucson's buses get most places, but you have to wait about an hour."

If only that would happen in Bogotá! where increasing wealth and endless propaganda drive young people to want to buy cars. Here, unfortunately, bicycle commuters are mostly people who can't afford bus fare, much less cars.

Erik also observed something I've been griping about for years:

"The lack of bike racks around town is another issue. I saw a lot of people riding bikes, but where do they put them?"

In fact, a Bogotá law requires buildings and public parking lots to receive bicycles. But many do not. The last time I visited, not even the City Council building honored its own law.

But one thing did dazzle him: Bogotá's Ciclovia:

"I came because of the Ciclovia. It was pretty much what I expected. Although I hadn't expected the vibrancy of the whole aerobics dance thing. I'd seen the video of it, but it really helped to be there in person. I was really impressed with the skill of the people up on stage. I was really impressed with everybody. They obviously knew their jobs really well. Everybody was really happy. Everybody is always happy when they're riding bikes.

"Among bike advocates in America Peñalosa is really well known, and Bogotá's real well known as a place with a really ambitious bike route system and really ambitious Ciclovia. It'll be a shame if they continue chipping away at the Ciclovia."

(He refers to the fact that, for expansion of the Transmilenio express-bus system, the city has removed parts of the Ciclovia, including Boyaca Ave. and 26th St. - although we're pressing to get those back.)

And Erik said his experience here contradicted the popular image of Colombia

"Colombia has such a bad reputation in the states. Even now. People assume that if you're coming here, you're coming here to do cocaine. You'll get kidnapped. I rode my bike all over the place," and didn't get kidnapped! 

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours.

viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2009

Another Victory for Bicycles!

Rush hour, but nobody's moving!
This morning, a cyclist, a Transmilenio rider and a car driver 'raced' 7.5 kms across Bogotá during the morning rush hour. Naturally, the cyclist (Ferreira, the city councilman who plan to create a public bicycles program) arrived first, in 20 minutes. The Transmilenio rider arrived ten minutes later, and finally the car driver, five minutes after him. 

Hopefully, this will convince a few more Bogotanos to cut their commute time in half by dusting off their bikes. Unfortunately, the Transmilenio rider, who also heads the National Federation of Retailers, FENALCO, did nothing but complain about the system's 'inhumanely' crowded conditions. It was, unsurprisingly, the first time that he'd used the system, and probably the last. Transmilenio is crowded because it works. I'm sure that he considers sitting in his car for hours trapped in traffic and spewing pollution much more humane. Incidentally, FENALCO wants to sell cars.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2009

More Talk than Action!

This afternoon, several NGOs and universities held a meeting about Bogotá's troubled transit situation and  bicycles' potential role in improving it. Naturally, the sentiments were sensible and accurate - if the number of cars here keeps growing, the city will become strangled. Even if this was mostly preaching to the converted, the message was nice to hear. 

There's a plan in the works to create a public bicycles program here, called 'Bici-centro' or 'Bici-Bogota,' which would be great - if it works. And a professor from Central University is doing a study on transit, and the role bicycles can play in that. 

But, while all of these studies and plans are making their slow way through the bureaucracy, and hopefully not en route to the round file, nobody at all is yelling about the severe problems Bogotá cyclists suffer right now - pollution, lack of parking, chaotic traffic, the possible disappearance of the the Ciclovía's main section. 

By the time that all of these wonderful plans and studies are ready, I wonder whether Bogotá will still be bikeable.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, owner of Bogota Bike Tours.

domingo, 8 de noviembre de 2009

Cargo Bikes

If you've ever thought about spending hundreds or thousands of bucks in order to trailer your groceries home in style, take a look at these home-made Colombian cargo trailers.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

sábado, 7 de noviembre de 2009

How to Not Park Bicycles

This handsome bicycle parking facility was built beside the Las Aguas Transmilenio station, near the La Candelaria neighborhood. It has a sophisticated elevator to reach the second floor, space for more than 100 bikes and even lockable footlockers for people to store their things. 

Sounds like an important step for cyclists by a forward-thinking city government, right? Sure would be - if it were open. But it isn't. 

More than two years after this sophisticated and expensive (but poorly designed) structure was finished, it's still closed. Today, there were about three bikes parked there. But only vendors from a single street vendors' center can park their bikes there - and only if they have a special permit from a particular municipal government agency. Upstairs, there were several dozen bicycles used by the 'guards' during the Sunday Ciclovia. Talk about an expensive way to store bikes, which could simply be leaning against a wall in a warehouse. 

What's the lesson in this? That in the city government there are people with good intentions to promote cycling. But, somewhere between the idea and the act, something goes wrong - bureaucracy, incompetence, poor planning - whatever. To me, it also looks like yet another example of Bogotá's top-down planning practices. Did they consult with real bicycle commuters before deciding to build a parking facility whose sides are built of slats which let the often-torrential rain in? Did they consult with other mass transit bike parking facilities before deciding to build this, apparently without any plan for operating it?

Did they study the potential demand before deciding to build large, expensive facilities at a few stations, rather than just placing cheap, simple bike racks at all the stations?

I've commented and complained about this situation (and there are three more of them in Bogotá) over the years, to little avail. Sadly, most likely one day a politico will seize on this as an example of why we shouldn't waste money on bicycles, but build instead more car parking lots - which do get used (and don't require permits to park). Nobody will observe that bicyclists didn't ask for or help design this project. 

The word I'm hearing about this facility is that it hasn't opened because the government hasn't found a private entrepreneur to manage the thing for a profit. The reason is obvious: the few hundred or thousand pesos which most cyclists here would be willing to pay to park their bikes will never pay the costs. Of course, that's true in wealthy countries, as well. The problem here is a fundamental error in approach: a bike parking facility should not be seen as a commercial venture like a parking lot for cars, but rather a public service, similar to a library, meant to promote a public good.

Let's hope that the public bikes project which one city councilman wants to create is better planned and carried out.

To the city government's credit there are large, well-used bike parking facilities at some of the Transmilenio terminals, mostly in the city's poorer, southern neighborhoods.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours and Rentals

lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2009

Bike Route Needed!

This six-lane street runs from Simon Bolivar Park - a major cyclist destination - to 26th St., which has one of the nicest ciclorutas in Bogotá. 

So, why doesn't this street, of all places, have a cycle route? It's wide enough, cars drive fast and cyclists use it. 

Even more absurd, to get onto the 26th St. cicloruta, one has to hoist the bike up over this tall curb. Why no ramp?

lunes, 26 de octubre de 2009

When a Bike Rack is Not a Rack for Bikes

When it's near a police station. This thing sure looks like a bike rack, with those curved pipes alongside each other. And it's near a police station, which is great in a city with a crime problem like Bogotá. But it's beside a police station, and when we asked, even begged, to park my bike there for an hour they just said 'prohibido!'. Even when I offered to show my I.D. and explained that I had a meeting i the neighboring Universidad de los Andes. Why? because it's near a police station - and that's the law in Colombia. Why leave the rack near the police station at all, then? I asked. No answer. Maybe they're afraid that if they move the rack away it'll get stolen.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

Carlos Pardo, representative of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), argues in an opinion column in El Tiempo that Bogotá needs to expand its cycle path network, improve parking and take other measures in order to once again become a leader in cycle-friendliness. 

Speaking of cycle lanes, look at the one on above - you can just glimpse the yellow line between the two trucks parked in the cycle lane, behind the kid flipping me off. Of course, I'm not sure where else the trucks could park to make their deliveries. The fault is really the designer's.

Cali Cyclists Rally!

Cyclists in the city of Cali rode thru the streets the other day demanding clean air and more bike routes. Hear, hear!


domingo, 11 de octubre de 2009

It's Time to Save Bogotá's Ciclovia Once Again!

Last year, we collected signatures, lobbied politicians and mobilized public opinion and defeated a senator's very bad idea to shut down the Ciclovia two hours early, removing its afternoon hours. (http://www.salvemoslaciclovia.blogspot.com/) 

For those who don't know, the Ciclovía is a unique and wonderful Bogotá phenomenon. The city shuts down a network of major avenues and many thousands of people turn out to bicycle, jog, walk, skate - really anything. There are mass public aerobic classes, free music, street artists, flea markets and sellers of all kinds. It's a wonderful, unique, spontaneous and very healthy and human happening. (http://www.streetfilms.org/archives/ciclovia/) 

Now, a new threat has appeared, a result of the city's plans to extend the Transmilenio express bus system along Seventh Ave. Seventh Ave. is chaotic, polluted and inefficient, with thousands of old diesel buses belching along, so building a more efficient transit system there can only be an improvement (altho which is the best option is arguable).

However, the problem is that when they started Transmilenio construction along 26th St., which leads to the airport, they removed the Ciclovia from that Ave., at least temporarily.

The Seventh is one of Bogotá's most famous avenues, and certainly its most emblematic one, since it runs past the presidential palace and Plaza de Nariño, as well as important parks and many neighborhoods. Removing Seventh Ave. from the Ciclovía would be a fatal blow. It would lose its prominence in the city and thousands of users would lose access to it.

We're demanding that the Ciclovia of the Seventh be preserved. We also want to be certain that after Transmilenio is operating on Seventh Ave. the Ciclovia will still be there, even though there will be one less lane for cars.

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

domingo, 4 de octubre de 2009

Today's El Tiempo newspaper published a report on the proliferation of 'bicycles' equipped with gasoline-powered motors. These are simply small motorcycles, they have no pollution controls and shouldn't be on either the Ciclovia or the Ciclorutas. We're not talking about quiet, non-polluting electric bikes here. In Chile, they're called 'mosquitos', and cyclists are compaigning against them. Could be that these things have their place, but they need to be regulated and controlled.

This blog is maintained by Mike Ceaser, owner of Bogota Bike Tours.

Save Bogotá's Ciclovia!!!

There's a new threat to the world-famous Ciclovia! The city is advancing with plans to build a TransMilenio line on 7th Ave. Rational transit on 7th will be a big improvement over the existing chaotic and ancient private buses. However, 7th Ave. is also the heart of La Ciclovia, and if they shut it during construction (as they have on 26th St.) the Ciclovia will be but a shadow of itself. 

The city could either let the Ciclovia continue using the 7a, perhaps with a few temporary detours, or shift it to a neighboring avenue, such as 13th Ave. 

Let's not let the Ciclovia die!

This blog is created by Mike Ceaser, owner of Bogota Bike Tours, in Bogotá, Colombia

jueves, 24 de septiembre de 2009

Public Bikes in Bogotá

The National University's Bogotá campus, the nation's largest university, has had public bikes on campus for about two years. The green one-speeds have only one brake - in the rear. But since the campus is flat, not much breaking power is needed. The photos shows a student who is collecting the public bikes to store over a weekend.
Unfortunately, the program began with more than 1,000 bikes but has only a few hundred left operating. Some have been stolen, others suffered abuse and damage.
Now, a city councilmember is proposing creating a public bicycles program like those in Paris and Barcelona for Bogotá. It'll be great if it works, but sadly I have my doubts.
This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, who runs Bogota Bike Tours www.bogotabiketours.com

Safety for cyclists

Nicole, the older girl, died recently while cycling on a Bogotá street. While many motorists are considerate toward cyclists and pedestrians, others are aggressive. City hall needs to do education that cyclists are important vehicles as well, and deserve respect. Unfortunately, many cyclists (including yours truly) also often don't take basic safety measures, such as wearing a helmet and, at night, a reflective vest - both of which are required by law. Also, I often see cyclists riding at night not only without lights or reflectors, but dressed in dark clothes! A good way to reduce one's life expectancy!

This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, who owns Bogotá Bike Tours and Rentals www.bogotabiketours.com 

It's a tiny thing in Bogotá's National Park/Parque Nacional, but it means a lot. Previously, drivers routinely parked their cars here, blocking the ramp which cyclists, wheelchair users, pedestrians and others needing to cross the street. Yours truly had complained repeatedly to the park staff, and recently this and other cones began appearing. The cones mean that non-car users also matter!

martes, 8 de septiembre de 2009

Parking a bike in Bogotá, Colombia?

Spot the threat to public order?
Spot the threat to public safety in the photo! (Hint: it's got two wheels and doesn't pollute)
Bogotá, Colombia's great for bicycles, right? You can ride a bike on the world-famous Ciclovia, on Latin America's biggest network of bicycle paths - but where can you park it? At public buildings, transit stations, banks, hospitals you're not likely to find a bike rack and are likely to get driven off if you try to chain your two-wheeler to a signpost.
Case in point: today I tried to attend a municipal meeting on bike planning (I arrived very late, admittedly), held in a private university. I locked my bike to a street sign on the sidewalk, as people do everywhere in the world. Promptly, a security guard arrived and informed me that the university did not allow such outrages as bicycles parked on the sidewalk near it. I pointed out to him that the sidewalk did not belong to the university, but that didn't budge him.
'Why?' I asked. 'Who's my bike harming by being there?'
'Please remove the bicycle,' he repeated, unable or unwilling to add any reason, because there wasn't any.
Soon, a second guard arrived, this one with a big, black bomb-sniffing dog. And then three junior cops, all of whom repeated to me the same thing - but none with any reasoning behind the prohibition.
My bicycle's offense did change, however. Now it was breaking the law against attaching things to street signs. Or the law against occupying public space (even tho it didn't block the sidewalk at all).
After some discussion, I went to the auto parking lot across the street. Municipal law requires all parking lots to accept bicycles, but most, like this one, ignore the law. It seems that the law is enforced only when it's against bicycles.
I was informed that the university does have bike parking. But I didn't know that. And, locking a bike to a street sign, an accepted practice the world over, is cheap, convenient, fast and easy - why prohibit it for no reason?
I finally relented. On the way back to Bogotá Bike Tours' shop I passed several cars parked on sidewalks - but nobody appeared to mind.
It seems that in this city if you buy a loud, huge, polluting, machine the right to occupy the sidewalk is included.
No parking problem here. 
This blog is written by Mike Ceaser, who runs Bogotá Bike Tours.

sábado, 5 de septiembre de 2009

More folks seem to be cycling to and through Colombia - here's a Belgian and an American. Notice that neither rode a mountain bike!

Jean, from Belgium, cycled from Chile/Argentina to Bogotá - some 9,000 kilometers over seven months. He took it easy, he said, stopping to camp and visit whenever he felt like it. I met him in the Hostal Fatima, around the corner from Bogota Bike Tours' shop. He said the Carreterra Austral in southern Chile was particularly beautiful, with tiny towns along the way. 

He enjoyed Bolivia because of its remoteness. In Colombia, he said, motorists were generally more considerate, perhaps because they're more used to finding cyclists on the road. In Colombia he also found it easier to buy parts for his bike. 

Jean's bike is a real technological marvel to a guy like me, who grew up with center-pull brakes and three-speeds with coaster brakes. In fact, I still use lots of those things. In contrast, Jean's bike had hydraulic brakes, an electromagnetic generator inside the front hub which powered his lights and German-made gears inside the rear hub. (Jean said the Shimano hub-gears also worked well, but that the German ones gave him more range for touring.) Despite all this hi-tech, Jean didn't have problems with spare parts. The only time he needed something not available in South America - a part for the brakes - his parents very conveniently were able to bring the piece with them on an already-scheduled visit. Otherwise, he said, the company would have sent the parts UPS.

In general, Jean said he enjoyed riding in Colombia - except close to Bogota, where the roads became quite busy. He recounted one moving experience, when a Colombian man road with him for a stretch and told Jean that he cycled every day in memory of his son, who was killed in a traffic accident (altho not while cycling). The Colombian man gave Jean some money to have a beer in the next town. 

Jean met many other bicycle tourists during his ride, some of whom really impressed him with their accomplishments on two wheels. One couple were carrying packed trailers behind their bikes - and their 8-year-old baby daughter!

Another cyclist - this one from Atlanta, Georgia, standing in front of Bogota Bike Tours' shop - who also came by to have his pedals removed for shipping. We're getting better at remembering which direction to turn to loosen them. Seems like more and more people are bike touring Colombia.

sábado, 29 de agosto de 2009

Electric Bikes

The other day I attended an event on sustainable transport, where experts from Colombia and other countries expressed their views. One thing which makes no sense to me, and which at least one speaker talked about, is the fact that the Transmilenio express bus system uses diesel fuel. In a city with a smog problem, where most of the terrain is flat, wouldn't it have made more sense to use natural gas or electricity? 

Someone had brought several electric bicycles to show off and demonstrate. I test rode two of them, and they rode smoothly and were fun - you pedaled a bit on one of them, and it really took off. Silent and smooth and produce no exhaust. 

In Bogotá, 'bicycles' with a small, gasoline-burning motors have become popular recently. But a bicycle with a motor is a motorcycle. And these motorized bikes, called 'mosquitoes' in Chile, are noisy and polluting. Are they environmental? They don't seem like it, altho I guess an argument could be made if they were replacing cars. But I rather suspect that motorists aren't selling their cars, but that cyclists and bus riders are switching to these motorbikes.

Electric bicycles, in contrast, do have a real 'green' image - probably because some residents of rich nations do use them when they might be using cars. But even if e-bikes don't pollute during use, the power plant which produces their juice is pumping CO2 and noxious gases into the air. And what happens to that old battery? 

Seems to me that electric bikes can be called environmentalist when they replace car use - something which happens in developed nations. But someplace like Colombia, an e-bike user probably has moved 'up' from a regular bike, actually increasing his impact on the environment.

Bike Bogota Today!


jueves, 27 de agosto de 2009

Bike Bogotá Today! Bogota Bike Tours
A dispatch from someone who rode Colombia's Caribbean coast:

I did the whole Caribe cost and made it as far as Maracaibo. As bacano as the whole trip was in Colombia, Venezuela was the opposite. I visited Santa Marta, Taganga, Parque Tayrona, Dibulla, Riohacha, Manure, Cabo de la Vela, Uribia and Micao. I have way point files that convert easily to klm and are easily dropped on google maps\earth. The whole trip on my carbon Specialized with treadless contis pulling a bob, and didn't haveone problem, or for that matter 1 flat! Drivers are also riders there, and a honk means, hey i see you.. just want you to know im here. So if anyone needs any information or advise, i'll be happy to share what I know. Be prepared passed the Parque to battle a full blown headwind. And I'm serious, sometimes its hard to penetrate and travel 7mph. in addition it's hot, for me a bonus. And as far as safety
is concerned, and on the hw dont be concerned. Just secure your stuff and don't be a jerk and wear a camera that's 1\2 a years salarie for the people here without being on gaurd. As a tourist on a bike you will be looked after and treated with respect. They know bikes here (even though for the most part they drive jumk with counterfeit names. When did shimanno start making frames?:eek:
Further east then

Insofar as traveling further east then Cabo, it is possible but you'll need to 4x4 it with one of the local guides. Also, the guides only like to go out the those areas in the night, and you will be stopping a various places, delivering things. I dont know what they deliver... but they hide the packages under the seats and door panels..ect

Additionally, as far as your comment re paras, when the rats know an area is controlled by other then the normal tumbos, as a tourist you are safer. The other police don't follow process and procedure that is mandated by law they find and ultimate solution rather rapidly. Also, and I don't mean to get on a political soap box, but I believe currently the police,,, militarily and paras are all basically from the same barrel full of monkeys,, and from the top down. All that considered there is much more freedom and demonstrations here. I have never been delt with unfairly or disrespectfully by any of the control. For that matter I was never even stopped at any control point,be it militarily , intelligence or normal cops.The one time I was stopped, the young guys said come over here the LT needs to talk. I cross the street.The LT says need to put ice in your water. After 3 days in that hellhole they call Venezuela, that was an awesome welcome to get.

Asking people is a good idea. But to be quite honest most of the time they dont know. Attached is a photo taken at Dibulla, the end of the days ride from the Parque.Not pictured is the inebriated photographer who consumed mass qualities of .35$ Costenitas, on the beach, without are care in the world!

ps.. por la septima on Sunday morning is one of my favorite activities.

martes, 25 de agosto de 2009

My bike - the threat to public security!

Bogotá is a heaven for cyclists, right? Today I went to drop off some Bogotá Bike Tours publicity at a hotel, leaving my bike locked to a signpost on the far side of a very wide sidewalk. All around were parked motorcycles and cars.

When I returned, not ten minutes later, I found several soldiers and a drug-sniffing dog examining my bike, which was evidently a great danger to the area. 

There have been cases of bike bombs in Bogotá. But there's little space on my old bike to hide a bomb, and of course the nearby cars and motorcycles could pack a whole lot more explosives. 

Point out as I might that a prospective bomber wouldn't likely choose a bicycle, the soldiers just repeated that i couldn't leave my bike there. 

That wasn't the first time this happened to me. One time, in fact, I left the bike parked in a bicycle parking rack near a police station, and when I returned the cops chastised me having left it in the bike rack!

Another time when i left the bike sort of near a police station, the cops cut the cable (impossible to replace here) and stuck the bike inside the police station. Smart way to handle a potential bomb, right?

Our neighbor cyclist

This neighbor of Bogota Bike Tours proves that a bicycle doesn't have to  expensive or glamorous to be practical.

sábado, 22 de agosto de 2009

Bogotá's Ciclorutas

This is, believe it or not, the second photo shows one of Bogotá's Ciclorutas. The people using its walls as seats and the vendors using it as sales area, don't seem to know it. On the right, a Cicloruta that's a little more useful for cyclists.

Here's a rogues gallery of Bogotá ciclorutas: http://www.kodakgallery.com/gallery/creativeapps/slideShow/Main.jsp?albumId=105290780212&ownerId=344647250212&token=705290780212%3A1654943581

Mike Ceaser runs Bogota Bike ToursBogota Bike Tours www.bogotabiketours.com

Colombia Bike Tourers

During the last couple of days, while visiting Hostels for bike touring customers, I've met two guys whose international bike tours brought them to Colombia. One is a Belgian who rode up from Argentina and the other a French Canadian who rode down from Guatemala, and both said that Colombia was the best part of their rides - mostly because of the friendliness of the people. The guy from Montreal, Canada, said that in one small town he passed through they even asked him to teach an impromptu English class!



sábado, 15 de agosto de 2009

Mike Ceaser operates Bogota Bike Tours Bogota Bike Tours

Reading some websites, you'd think that Bogotá, Colombia was a paradise for cyclists - after all, it's got the world-famous Sunday/holiday Ciclovía and the most bicycle routes of any city in Latin America.

Well, that's all great, and Bogotá certainly deserves credit for it.

La Ciclovía

But try remembering that Bogotá's a great place for cycling when you're dodging pedestrians and delivery vehicles on a central Bogotá 'Cicloruta.' Or when you're riding along a busy avenue and swallowing fumes from cars, buses and trucks which apparently never heard of pollution controls.

And when you arrive at your destination - a bank, shopping center, public building, university...you're likely to find no safe place to park your bike and even paranoid hostility against bicycles.

All of that leaves a mixed picture or a city which has taken considerable steps to promote cycling (albeit under previous mayors) but has left huge problems - and prodding city leaders to improve the situation is frustrating.

This is an official Cicloruta in central Bogotá. Oh, poor cyclists!

Mike Ceaser operates Bogota Bike Tours Bogota Bike Tours