viernes, 29 de junio de 2012

Goodbye to Bogotá's Best 'Bike Lane'

Cyclists ride in the TransMilenio lanes on 26th St., with a TM station on one side and Bogotá's Eastern Hills behind. 
A poster made by the Institute of
Recreation and Sports (the IDRD),
reminding cyclists not to ride in the
TransMilenio lanes as of June 30. 
For the past year or so, thanks to delays in putting the new TransMilenio line on 26th St. into operation, the unused lanes have been a de-facto bike lane - Bogotá's widest, straightest and most uncluttered bike lane, in fact.
But with the planned (partial) opening of the new TM line tomorrow - only about two years late - this will end. The avenue will have a bike lane designed to be a bike lane. It's a good lane, but of course it is narrower, and also shifts from the sidewalk to the center of the avenue. 

A crowd inaugurating a new TransMilenio station.
A pair of cyclists stopped in the new bike lane, or Cicloruta, in the center of 26th St. along this stretch.

By Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours

domingo, 3 de junio de 2012

Pedicabers Protest For Their Right To Pedal

Colorful pedicabs lined up in front of the Palacio de Justicia on Plaza Bolivar. 
The other day, Plaza Bolivar's look changed more radically than it has since the zorreros protested, as hundreds of pedicab drivers occupied the square demanding their right to work. 

Two pedicab drivers. 
In fact, thousands of pedicabs, called bicitaxis, operate throughout Bogotá, carrying passengers on short trips, often less than a mile, between TransMilenio stations and nearby destinations. The pedicabs are a cheap, efficient, non-polluting transport mode which cause little congestion - in particular, because they often combine passengers who arrive separately, something normal taxis can't do. 
Dozens of pedicabs and their drivers in front of Congress. 

Ideal, right? Except that the pedicabs are technically illegal. Their drivers complain that police sometimes harass them and even confisticate their vehicles.
The only explanation I've been able to get for this perverse situation is the political pressure from conventional taxi drivers, who see the pedicabs as a threat. Perhaps they are, altho only in a very minor, limited way. But city leaders need to defy the taxistas lobby and do what's best for the city by legalizing and supporting the pedicabs. In addition to issues of transit and serving the public, the pedicab drivers are poor men with very limited skills and education. If they lose their way of life, many families will likely go hungry. 

Pedaling across the plaza. 

Transit officials on two wheels look over the protest march, which also included many other organizations. 

A late arrival pedals up. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours