domingo, 22 de mayo de 2011

A Dubious Distinction for Bogotá's Ciclorutas

Award worthy? A 'bike lane' in central Bogotá. 
Bogotá's just received a 'best practice' honor from the Global Partners Innovation Exchange for its network of bicycle lanes.

But while Bogotá's bicycle lanes are an admirable and valuable accomplishment, the honor makes one ask: 'Have the awarders been reading the news over the past decade?'

A lonely bike lane in Bogotá's Teusaquillo neighborhood. (Of course, this was a Sunday.)
That's because, while Bogotá has spent recent years mostly neglecting its bike lane network, other cities in Latin American and around the world have been improving theirs.

Buenos Aires Mayor  Mauricio Macri pedaling his city.
Buenos Aires, for example, has been building a network which is to measure 196 kilometers and also offering subsidies to public employees who want to buy bikes.

Here's Buenos Aires' mayor cycling. I've never seen Bogotá's (now suspended) mayor on two wheels - perhaps because he's too busy getting involved in scandals.

Public bicycles in Mexico.
Mexico City, for its part, is setting up a public bicycles system, as has Buenos Aires, and creating bike lanes. Bogotá's own projected public bikes system has never gotten started.

Bogotá has accomplished lots for cycling, but nearly all of it is old news. Sections of its pioneering bike lane network are crumbling.

So, this award gives me a feeling of sadness for how little Bogotá's done for cycling recently.

This cyclist chose the street over a bike lane. 
The award also recognizes the cycle path network for reducing the production of global warming gases. However, only a few percent of Bogotá commuters use bicycles, and I bet most of them would still pedal without the bike lanes. Often, they have no choice because they can't afford bus fare.

Bogotá has lots of opportunities to reduce its greenhouse gas production (and conventional pollution), but they will require political will to stand up to political and business forces such as the bus companies and the auto industry. With the mayor suspended and possibly on his way to join his senator-brother in prison, nothing will be accomplished during this administration.

Aged buses on Carrera 10.
City governments have repeatedly promised to junk the city's old bus fleet - but done little. They're supposed to be eliminated whenever the Integrated Public Transit System (SITP) is introduced. Whenever that happens.

A lone cyclist on Jimenez Ave. 
Reducing pollution by phasing out the dirtiest buses and places effective restrictions on private car use would make cycling more pleasant and get lots more people on the road.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

1 comentario:

  1. here's an interesting article comparing bogotá to baltimore that i thought you might enjoy: