|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