|Motorized bicycles, called ciclomotores, for sale in central Bogotá.|
|Take a bike, add a motor, and you get a motorbike.|
But their users insist on calling them bicycles, and taking advantage of the privileges of using a bicycle, such as riding in bike lanes, in the National University, and sometimes even on La Ciclovia.
Today, as salesman told me that these ciclomotores start at 850,000 pesos (about $500), or that he could equip my own bike with a motor for 550,000 pesos. They can do 40 kilometers per hour and cover 90 kms on their half-gallon gas tank. There were selling "quite well," he said happily, and gave me his card.
|A motorized bicycle on the campus of the National University, |
where this guy wouldn't have been able to enter on a
These things violate all of bicycling's positives: they're dirty, noisy and generally unpleasant and don't do their riders' health any good, since I've almost never seen anybody pedal one. But, they're much cheaper than regular motorcycles and battery-powered bicycles.
|A proud motorized bicycle rider. |
He zoomed away with a trail of fumes.
Ironically, Bogotá has recently tried to phase out two-stroke engines, which are highly polluting. Unfortunately, the city backed off of this policy in the face of protests by motorcyclists, and now these ciclomotores are making the problem worse.
|Do I look like a bicyclist?|
Adding insult to injury, I'm worried that these monsters will discourage riders of real bikes, by making life in Bogotá's bike lanes dangerous and unpleasant.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours