martes, 29 de octubre de 2013

Bamboo Bikemaking in Bogotá

Jairo Suarez Gallardo of Gallardo bikes, with one of his bamboo creations. 
About two years ago Jairo Suarez Gallardo, a bicycle enthusiast who had studied industrial design, decided to build himself a bicycle out of bamboo. His success produced one bicycle, then many more, as well as a company: Gallardo Bikes.

Over the past two years, Suarez and his wife Angela Riveros have assembled some 20 bamboo bikes, including mountain and urban bikes, as well as others designed for bike polo. 

"They're as rigid as aluminum frames, as flexible as carbon frames and as tough as steel frames," says Suarez. 
Angela with a bamboo bike. 

Or, perhaps a bit heavier than aluminum. A bamboo mountain bike frame weighs 1.9 to 2.3 kilograms, while a fixie frame weighs about 2.3 kilos, Suarez said. The difference is due mostly to the steel and aluminum parts attached.

Suarez taught himself the bike-making skills, via the internet and trial and error. The bamboo, a vareity called bamboo verde, comes from the region around Risaralda, and the pieces are bound together using fibers of fique, a desert plant resembling aloe vera.

The bikes don't come cheap. A frame alone costs about 890,000 pesos. Components boost price to 1.5 million pesos or more.  

Medellin pioneered bamboo bikemaking in Colombia, with two companies now making them there. About six months ago, a second bamboo bike maker appeared in Bogotá. 

"Competition is healthy," Suarez said.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

Making the Bicycle Hip

David Serna, writer of the CycleChic Bogotá blog and a founder of the Creatorio bike company with their cool bikes. 
Practical? A Creatorio bike's basket. 
At Bogotá's recent Feria Ambiental I saw lots of products of dubious environmental value - with the general exception of the bicycles.

Bogotá is experiencing a minor boom in bicycle manufacturing. These bikes are relatively expensive, colorful and fancy, and not likely to become transportation for Bogotá's working class, who are predominantly poor and not interested in hippiness.

But, by making bicycles cool, perhaps these companies can counterbalance a bit of the propaganda driving bogotanos to purchase cars, with all the damage they cause to health, the environment and Bogotá's quality of life.

Most of these companies, with the exception of Gallardo's bamboo bikes, are incipient, as you can see from their bare websites. Creatorio's bikes are still in an experimental stage. With luck, some will survive, find a market, and set a trend making bicycles more desireable than cars.

We can hope, at least.

Cletta bikes. 

Gallardo's pricey bamboo bikes are in a category of their own.
A decidedly uncool bicitaxi. Thousands of them perform great public and environmental services in Bogotá every day, but are technically illegal. 
The Ciclocar, which generates energy for other uses. 

David Serna helps organize the annual Ciclopaseo Cachaco, in which participants dress in the style of yesteryear and ride old-fashioned bikes. 

These environmental fair participants found plain old bikes good enough.

The city provided some of the public bikes being lent on Ave. Septima. 

A gimmick? The Yike Bike. 

But the environmental event offered lots of probably free parking. (I didn't hae the heart to ask.)
Bicycle parking. I was told they had another bike rack, but never saw it.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

The Bicycle as Marketing Hook - for Cars

The Centro Andino's car ad features a bicycle.
A first glance at this full-page advertisement by the swanky Centro Andino shopping mall might leave you thinking that the mall is pushing cycling - but you'd be mistaken. Instead, the Andino thinks the bicycle is a nice symbol of youth, coolness, sophistication or something - and a great way to market cars, like this monster vehicle being raffled off.

Does the Centro Andino provide practical parking for bicycles? (I sort of doubt it.)

Does the Centro Andino provide free parking for cars? (Almost certainly)

Does the Centro Andiino use the bicycle as anything more than a marketing tool for cars. (I really doubt it.)

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

viernes, 18 de octubre de 2013

The Green Cyclists Meet

Greenman, on the left above, is an artist and environmental activist who's a frequent participant at environmentalist and cycling advocacy events. Javier earns tips as a performer and human statue.

At a recent Smart Cities conference held at Corferias the two met for the first - and perhaps the last - time.

Some of us, of course, would argue that all bicyclists are 'green', no matter how they dress.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

sábado, 5 de octubre de 2013

'My Style is Bici'

Balancing a bike. 

Some scenes from yesterday's event on Plaza Bolivar, called 'My Style is the Bike' (Mi Estilo es Bici), sponsored by the city government and intended to promote cycling.

Let's hope that the city's efforts go beyond p.r. Jaime Ortiz (photo at the bottom), a Bogotá architect who worked for many years as a city official, during which time he helped start La Ciclovia in the 1970s, was cynical about the event - and nearly all of Bogotá's pro-cycling efforts.

For example, Ortiz argues that the city has designed Ciclorutas for the use of university students - relatively few of whom actually ride bikes - while ignoring the city's many delivery bicycles.

"I think this process needs a bit of reality," Ortiz said. "There's too much image."

Costumed cyclists.

Guardians of Bogotá's Ciclorutas.

'My style is the bike.'

Classic urban bicycles. 

And a few scenes of the (sometimes) reality on Bogotá's streets and sidewalks.

A cyclist gets a blast of smoke from TransMilenio.

Cyclists weave their way thru jammed traffic in central Bogotá.
Bicyclists make their way between parked cars near the Parque Nacional in Bogotá.  

Bicyclists on public bikes on Ave. Septima. Why doesn't the city expand the program beyond this single avenue to make it more useful?

Architect Jaime Ortiz, who, as a city official, helped start La Ciclovia in the 1970s.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours