martes, 17 de abril de 2012

Public Bikes on Seventh Ave.

Attendants and bikes on Seventh Ave. 
Bogotá's long-promised public bicycles system appears no closer to reality. But, in what will hopefully spur officialdom to get it moving, City Hall and the IDRD have set up a low-tech, small-scale bike lending program on the pedestrianized stretch of Ave. Septima between 19th and 24th Sts.

The aluminum-frame bikes are lots nicer than needed
for five level blocks of Ave. Septima.
Right now, they've got 16 bikes, stationed in two spots, by 19th St. and 24th. But they have more bikes available and intend to expand, an attendant told me. The bikes are nice ones, with aluminum frames. And security isn't bullet-proof: attendants make sure users have a valid photo ID, and take a photograph of the person with ID and bike. Users are supposed to remain only on the five blocks of Seventh Ave. which are closed to cars while the bridge over 26th St. is replaced as part of the TransMilenio expansion project (The new bridge is supposed to be completed in 100 days.)

Encouragingly, an attendant told me they lent bikes 130 times today, which was happily rain-free. Yesterday was tougher, however, because of cold rain and protest marches.

"When the protests finally ended, the rains started," an attendant lamented.

Students, local employees and "even business men in suits and ties," used the bikes. Not a single one was stolen, altho I can't imagine it'd be very difficult for someone to present a fake ID and then dart down a side street into the Santa Fe neighborhood, where a stolen bike would be easy to hide.

This five-block project isn't very practical for transport, altho officials should consider expanding it to include spots near universities along the Eje Ambiental. But it demonstrates, once again, that real demand exists for public bicycles in Bogotá, and that this city of traffic jams may be missing an opportunity by not pursuing the idea, as Medellin is.

Users riding five blocks on loaned bikes. Each loan includes a helmet, but few got used. 
A bicycle stand. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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