lunes, 13 de diciembre de 2010

My Battle Up La Cicloruta de la 13/11

Live a video game! Ride Bogotá's Ciclorutas!

Bogotá's Ciclorutas are supposed to facilitate the lives of cyclists, but it certainly doesn't always seem that way.

Today, I rode from downtown to the Foreign Ministry to the DAS police headquarters, most of the way on one of Bogotá's most important Ciclorutas, the one on carreras 13 and then 11.

A typical scene on the 'bike route.'
Would anybody tolerate pedestrians blocking cars this way?
Many times, as I hurried behind schedule, I had to brake suddenly and swerve around delivery vehicles, cars (at intersections) and pedestrians, who wandered across the bikeway or suddenly veered into it. I suppose that you can't blame them. While the Cicloruta receives significant use, it's not constant enough to keep pedestrians aware of it. This arrangement is a tragedy waiting to happen. Once, I almost slammed into a woman carrying an infant who wandered across the cycle path.

Even these cops weren't shy about standing in the Cicloruta
I don't usually advocate broadening streets, but in this case an in-street bike lane, with a barrier to protect it from cars, would be much more useful and probably safer than the sidewalk set-up. But on the other hand, it'd force cyclists to swallow even more diesel exhaust.

Hmm...wonder what this Cicloruta, along Jimenez Ave., is used for. 
Unfortunately, a substantial number of Cicloruta users were motorized monsters, who belong out on the street. During my ride north and south I encountered five motorized bikes on the Cicloruta. Apparently, no law applies to vehicles with such small engines. Enforcement is another issue. Lacking any pollution or noise controls, motorized bikes are bad enough. But once their presence becomes accepted on Ciclorutas I fear that regular motorcycles will follow.

Bicycle or motorcycle? At least we're cycle-pooling.
After fixing a flat, I arrived at the Foreign Ministry office with only minutes to spare before it closed at 12 noon. I rushed into the automobile parking lot across the street, where I'd left my bike before - but something had changed.

"We don't receive bikes here," the attendant told me.

"But the law requires you to!" I protested.

"Show me the law," he told me.

I had no time to argue, and went around the corner to lock my bike to a tree.

No bicycles allowed any more. 
On the way home, a downpour had made room on the Cicloruta.
At least the rain makes room. 
On the way, I encountered El Toma Corriente's shop. They sell electric bikes designed in Colombia but built in China out of Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese parts. (Why can't Colombia build such things competitively???) The bikes cost a bit - 1.8 million pesos ($1,000) and upward. And the batteries must be replaced after about 1,000 recharging cycles - and constitute half of the bikes' cost.
But e-bikes don't pollute or make noise and require much less maintenance than gasoline-powered bikes. And, here in Colombia, where most electricity comes from hydropower, they contribute much less to global warming, as well. I've seen at least two e-bike vendors in Bogotá, (the other sells Ezip Currie bikes) but the guys at El Toma Corriente told me there are about seven.

 By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comentario:

  1. Regarding e-bikes, they are certainly more complicated and of course not really ideal to lock to a tree! Good luck!