domingo, 17 de julio de 2011

Public Bicycles for Medellin

Simple and sturdy: Will Medellin's public bikes look like this one? (Photo: Facebook)

The city of Medellin plans to start up a public bicycles program this September, which would make it the first city in Colombia with such a system.

Better and faster on a bike? A traffic jam in Medellin.
The program is to begin this September with 160 bicycles and continue at least until December, when it will be evaluated. The bicycles are being made by a local company, Bici-K, and will carry GPS trackers. The program is to operate 15 hours every day. The scheme will also include 45 bicycles in the Arví Natural Reserve, according to El Tiempo, altho it's not clear whether those are in addition to the 160 bikes. The city also plans to hire between 20 and 30 university students to administer the system.

Medellin has mild, warm weather conducive to cycling. But it rains a lot and the city is hilly. Hopefully, the system will succeed and serve to pressure Bogotá to create its own public bikes system.

According to my reading, Medellin will be the fourth city in South America and the fifth in Latin America with a public bicycles program, after Santiago, Chile; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina and Mexico City. The only such experiment I've heard of in Colombia were the public bikes on the campus of Bogotá's National University. That program was ended because many bicycles were stolen and damaged - despite the fact that the university is surrounded by a fence with security. However, the university had no system to track who was using the bicycles.
A prototype of the public bikes planned for Medelling, according to El Mundo newspaper.
A Bogotá city councilman announced plans years ago to create a public bikes program in Bogotá. But it hasn't moved forward, and I doubt its prospects until Bogotá improves cycling conditions by controlling pollution and taming the chaotic traffic.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 14 de julio de 2011

Innovative Uses for Bogotá's Bike Lanes

Park an SUV...
Here's a photo essay showing some innovative uses for Bogotá's bicycle lanes, known as Ciclorutas.

Take a nap (note the extended legs and the 'stop' signs....

Park a horse and cart.

Talk with a friend.... 
Sell flowers.....
Rest while street vending. ....
Repair a bus.... 
Wait outside a hospital...
Or even ride a bicycle!
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

A High-Profile Bike Theft

Enrique Peñalosa bicycling. No word on whether this is the bike which was stolen. 
Today, while he was eating lunch in a north Bogotá restaurant, ex-Bogotá mayor and current mayoral candidate Enrique Peñalosa's bicycle was stolen off of the back of his campaign van. Peñalosa's bodyguard had gotten out of the vehicle to stop a nearby mugging, El Tiempo reports. No word on how much the bike was worth.

Bicycling on a Bogotá cicloruta. 
Peñalosa, who is in a three-way tie in the campaign for mayor, is famous for greatly expanding Bogotá's network of bicycle routes, called Ciclorutas, during his 1998-2001 mayoral term. He also created Bogotá's world-famous Transmilenio express bus system. 

This isn't Peñalosa's first experience with bike theft. In 1997 he was cycling thru a rough neighborhood of Cartagena when muggers stole his bike and other possessions. That time, the police were able to pressure the local criminals into returning the bike. This time, he may not be so fortunate.

The silver lining in this is that, if Peñalosa wins a second term as mayor, this may make him take bike theft and other crime more seriously. Certainly, the fear of getting one's bike stolen must dissuade lots of potential cyclists fearful of getting on their bicycles.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours