viernes, 27 de agosto de 2010

Bogotá Bike Fatalities

According to a report the other day in El Tiempo newspaper bicycle (and motorcycle) fatalities have risen dramatically. As for motorcyclists - well, they are crazy. Most of the city's motorcyclists are messengers. Combine the qualities of a risk-taking personality with the power of a big motor between the thighs and lots of deadlines, and there's no surprise that lots of them skid out and smash into other vehicles.

Many cyclists, of course, also ignore traffic laws. But since all they've got is leg power instead of horse power at their command, they're much less capable of doing themselves or others harm. Rather, I see many cyclists endangered by those rushing taxis and motorcycles which run stop signs and red lights and turn right across cross walks, taking for granted that pedestrians and cyclists will rush out of their way.

Still, there's a big asterisk by the bike fatalities stats: Between January and August 2009 four cyclists were killed on Bogotá streets, which shot up to 12 deaths this year. That is tragic and worrisome. But, in a city of eight million, numbers like 4 and 12 might not be statistically significant.

Nevertheless, there are some basic things which transit authorities ought to do. For a start, they could actually enforce basic traffic laws like stopping at stop signs. Wait at any Bogotá intersection and you'll see car after car, and particularly taxis, sailing past stop signs - even in pedestrian-heavy neighborhoods like La Candelaria. Inevitably, there are lots of car-car collisions and deaths of pedestrians and cyclists are also inevitable.

Another factor is the nation's failure to punish drunk drivers - even those who kill people - despite a law passed last year supposed to impose real punishments for drunk driving.

Another step is to use the media and the law to give pedestrians and bicyclists priority in traffic - as they have in just about every other country in the world.

By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours

martes, 24 de agosto de 2010

John Vileikis Makes Bikes!

Check out John Vileikis' hand-made wooden bikes for kids, and his very practical three-wheeled
familymobiles! John can be contacted, in Bogota, at: Cell: 315-782-2863 Fixed: 285-5462
     E-mail: johnvileikis (arroba) yahoo (.) es

Adaptable for cargo or kids!
John and his own cruiser.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

domingo, 22 de agosto de 2010

Where did BicirrUN run off to?

BicirrUN was a program of free public bicycles for use on the Bogotá' campus of Colombia's National University. The Bogotá campus, formally called the 'University City,' is huge, so walking between classes can take time.

BicirrUN, begun in 2006, consisted of some 300 bicycles (at a time) distributed across the campus. These were simple one-speeds (the campus is flat) with only one brake and often just a cable in place of the lower tube and were left in bike racks and by building entrances so that people could grab them and ride to their destinations, where they left them for someone else.

Besides saving time and (human) energy and popularizing cycling, the university bikes program also served as a template for a possible city-wide public bicycles program.

The project was Bogotá's third large experiment for promoting cycling, following the Ciclovia and the Cicloruta bike path system. It could be seen as a pilot for a possible municipal public bicycle system. Unfortunately, so far it has failed.

Unfortunately, in 2009 the program was folded and the bikes placed in deep storage below the university's nursing building. According to reports, the program cost too much - some of the bikes disappeared and many more were damaged by people doing things like going down stairs and leaping from rocks. It became unsustainable.

Fortunately, administrators are looking for a way to restart BicirrUN. They've talked about an education campaign and/or requiring users to check out their bikes, like library books.

How could the program be made viable?

An electronic credit card-type system is just out of reach because of cost.

And having people check out bikes for 20-minute periods also seems impractical. The university would need an army of monitor to administer the system.

But what if bikes were checked out for 24-hour periods? Users might also receive locks, or have to bring their own. Such a system might also permit students to take the bikes of campus, so that they'd become commuter vehicles as well. In case of damage or loss, the user would be required to pay the costs or lose the right to participate in the system.

Another note: Lots of National University students and faculty bring their own bikes onto campus. The campus is crowded with entrepeneurs who rent cell-phones, sell food, pirated music and other stuff. So, why hasn't anybody thot of creating a bike repair shop or stand on campus?

jueves, 5 de agosto de 2010

In Bogotá Bikes are More than Bikes

Lots of boxes!

In Bogotá, Colombia, the bicycle isn't just for personal transport and recreation - it's also a cargo vehicle, a family SUV/station wagon - even a place of business.
(By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

iThumbs up for two kids on two wheels.
Going and bringing bananas
Pedaling empanadas.
Push them potatoes! Some carry as many as six 100-pound potato sacks!

Juggling boxes

Biblical bike

On the way home.

This mom don't need no SUV.

Newspapers and candy for sale.
A bike with five 100-lb 'arrobas' of potatoes.

Here comes the soda.
Twin transport.