|Cyclists ride down Ave. Septima on lent municipal bikes, Bogotá's only public bikes program.|
This is approximately the umpteenth time that various city officials have announced that public bikes are coming, with few results. They even tried a pilot program, which was fairly successful, but hasn't been followed up.
|Pedaling down 26th St. amidst traffic. |
How many Bogotanos will dare?
Bogotá's own public bikes program is supposed to start in mid-2014 and consist of almost 3,000 bikes and 280 stations. A study of bicycle use in the city concluded that Kennedy, Chapinero, Teusaquillo and Usaquen - but apparently not the city center - are the most promising neighborhoods to begin. That will leave out huge parts of Bogotá, making me think that the project's usefulness will be limited.
Perhaps paradoxically, I also wonder whether the project is too ambitious. After all, Medellin has just a
|Will public bikes motivate the city to better maintain bike lanes?|
Hopefully, bike lanes will be expanded, maintained and kept clear of cars and pedestrians to make casual cyclists feel safe.
|A bicyclist pedals along Calle 26, which has a |
practical sidewalk bike lane. He may be moving
faster than the congested car traffic.
And Bogotá is not London, Paris or Barcelona, where I'm told that cyclists get respect from drivers. Will enough Bogotanos dare to jump onto bikes and brave Bogotá's rain, pollution and aggressive drivers to make the program succeed? If public bikes fail here, it'll be a big blow to cycling.
Meanwhile, Mayor Petro is fighting to stay in office. If he goes, the whole idea likely will, too.
|Riding in the cold rain on Ave. Septima. |
The Dutch don't mind doing it, but many Bogotanos do.
But let's have faith. In addition to creating more cyclists, my great hope for public bikes in Bogotá is that they will raise cycling's status here and motivate the city to improve conditions for bicyclists.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours