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