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

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