miércoles, 25 de abril de 2012

More Bike Lanes for Bogotá?

Studying a map of proposed bicycle lanes in the IDU this morning. 
A cyclist steers around pedestrians on a
sidewalk bike lane in central Bogotá.
The administration of Mayor Gustavo Petro, who recently said that pedestrians should have top transit priority, followed by cyclists, then public transit and then finally private cars, has proposals to build close to 200 kms of new bicycle lanes. At a meeting this morning in the Urban Development Institute (IDU), officials said they're studying some 185 kms of new bike lanes and evaluating whether they'd be on sidewalks, as many existing lanes are, or on streets, as the mayor has proposed.

Each design has problems: Many sidewalk lanes consist of little more than stripes painted on the pavement and cyclists have to dodge pedestrians, potholes and delivery vehicles. But if the lanes are in the street, cyclists will have to battle cars and motorcycles, which will certainly not respect cyclists' territory. And, it puts cyclists in the direct aim of exhaust pipes connected to motors burning dirty fuel and lacking pollution controls.

The sort sidewalk 'cicloruta,' or bike lane, which we don't need. 
What happens when bike lanes are in the street: This truck found this bike lane to be a good place to park. 
Two of the streets proposed for new bike lanes are Carrera Septima and Calle 19.

Ave. Septima might have room for a bike lane, particularly if the city builds a light rail line down its middle. 
But where would a bike lane fit on Calle 19?
And how many cyclists would dare to ride up the street behind smoke-spouting vehicles like these?

I made these two videos today, in a period of about twenty minutes - and they were only two of many smog belching vehicles I saw.

Priorities for cyclists? On 19th a cyclist waits for a long time for a chance to cross.
Finally, he grabs a chance to cross. 
Once across, he continues on the sidewalk. 
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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