viernes, 18 de marzo de 2011

A U.S. Expert's View

Try biking this Cicloruta - we did!
A woman who works for a major United States city's bicycle lane program rode some of Bogotá's own Ciclorutas the other day with Bogotá Bike Tours - and she didn't give them a rave review.

(The woman, who works for a city which is expanding its own cycle route system, wanted to remain anonymous so as not to seem to be giving official views.)
A bike lane in a North American city.
We rode, or tried to, down the Cicloruta along the south side of 13th St., near downtown. But the Cicloruta was so mobbed by pedestrians that pedaling was nearly impossible. In her city, she said, the bike lanes are built on the streets, either inside or outside the line of parked automobiles. This means less conflict with pedestrians, but potentially more with car drivers.

Some parents, who worry about their children riding near traffic, might be more inclined to let their kids pedal down Bogotá-style sidewalk bike lanes, she suggested.

And, of course, traffic in Bogotá isn't traffic in the United States, where driving and pollution laws are enforced. In Bogotá, cars would undoubtedly invade bike lanes not protected by physical barriers. And, riding on the sidewalk, one is at least a bit distanced from Bogotá's highly-polluting vehicles, which are not burdened by catalytic converters.

Hazardous arcs?
The U.S. expert also observed that Bogotá's bike lanes are narrower than those in her city, and that those metal posts and arcs meant to divide Bogotá's Ciclorutas' lanes and to block cars from entering them pose a collision hazard themselves. "I don't think they'd meet our safety standards," she said. In her city, similar posts are made of flexible plastic.

In her city, too, the city has painted arrows and symbols on the streets directing cyclists to designated bike lanes.

The expert suggested that Bogotá cycling is faced with a sort of Catch 22: Too few cyclists ride Bogotá's streets (except perhaps during rush hour) to make people conscious of the bike lanes, or to make others feel like they'd be safe on their bikes.

So, Bogotá needs more cyclists out there in order to get more people bicycling!

What could start this positive cycle? She says Bogotá needs more cycling advocacy and suggests improving bicycling conditions, such as reducing pollution, as well as a government publicity campaign advocating cycling. It would be, certainly, much cheaper than the alternative - building more roads. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours 

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