sábado, 1 de septiembre de 2012

Public Bikes for Bogotá II?

A cyclist squeezed by cars on Carrera 10.
How many non-cyclists will dare to pedal Bogotá's streets?
Bogotá's city government has, once again, promised to create a public bicycles system, this time before the end of next year.

Bogotá already made a trial run on two sites, which seemed to find real demand. But the trial was halted, while Medellin has launched its system and is expanding it.

A cyclis in the National University. A public bicycles
program here was ended after many bikes
were stolen and damaged. 
But, before setting up such a system, the city needs to look hard at issues such as crime, the wealther, how to charge and the city's cycling conditions. The only sustained shared bikes program tried in Bogotá was in the National University's campus. But even tho the campus is a closed area with guards at entrances and exits, the university ended the program after several years because many of the bikes were damaged or stolen. On campus, users simply picked up a bike to use and dropped it off at their destination.

One key difference with a municipal system, presumably, is that users will be identified and responsible for returning bikes in good condtion.

City employees lend bikes on Seventh Ave.
But the free program only covers a six-block stretch. 
Still, look at Bogotá's crime, chaotic streets and often-useless bike lanes, not to mention its hills and rain, and I have to wonder about this system's potential. A more mundane concern is the low rate of credit card/bank account use among Bogotanos, which will complicate charging systems.

If the system is tried and works, then great. It'll boost cycling, improve the city's chaotic transit, get people exercising and contribute to the city's image. Hopefully it'll also spur officialdom to improve conditions for all cyclists and drivers to give cyclists some respect. But if it fails, it'll be a black eye for cycling and mean more opposition to all cycling initiatives.

Somewhere on this sidewalk, probably underneath the cars, is a bike lane. 
A bike lane with a post in it. 
A homeless person found this bike lane to be a good camping spot. If he were blocking cars, the cops would move him. 
A bicyclist wears a facemask to protect himself from pollution.
A nice bike lane near the National Univesity. If they were only all like this one. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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