domingo, 16 de febrero de 2014

Bikes and Buses - Can They Cohabit?

Good neighbors? A bicyclist squeezes past a bus on Carrera 10.
Bogotá transit planners' latest scheme to reorganize Bogotá's transit is to create exclusive lanes shared by buses and bicycles. It's actually a good idea in principle - particularly for the bus riders, who could be freed from the traffic jams generated by all those single-passengers cars.

Ave. Jimenez in La Candelaria is reserved for
buses, and many cyclists use the corridor.
But can bicyclists and buses co-exist? Would bus drivers respect cyclists? Would cyclists exasperate bus drivers by darting in front of them? Would bicyclists get blasted by buses' exhaust?

Most importantly of all, tho, would the plan work at all? I doubt it. Unless the city invests in TransMilenio-type concrete barriers separating these new bus lanes from the rest of the traffic, will car drivers respect them? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

Pedaling up Ave. Jimenez
with a bus behind.
This sounds like yet another fantasy plan from the Petro administration, which seems convinced that human nature is so benevolent and unselfish that a few billboards and pamphlets handed out in the street are all it takes to reform human nature.

On the other hand, in the one place where buses and bikes share an avenue free of cars - on Ave. Jimenez in La Candelaria, it works pretty well and is used by many cyclists.

Bogotá does need new ideas for bike lanes.

Build safe bike lanes and cyclists will come: A father and
son pedal along the new bike lane thru
the Centro Intrernacional. 
Many of the city's existing bike lanes are on sidewalks, forcing cyclists to dodge pedestrians, forklifts and delivery vehicles. Cars park on the lanes and businesses use them to store and display products.

But, where they feel safe and have their own space, cyclists will come, as the car-free stretch of Ave. Septima has demonstrated. Bogotá needs to invest in real, protected and continuous corridors for cyclists. That won't be easy, but it's a necessary step for promoting cycling here.

Many of Bogotá's existing bike lanes, like this one along Calle 13, are on sidewalks, forcing cyclists to compete with pedestrians. 
On the street, cyclists must prepare to swallow buses' diesel.
Make space for cyclists? A bicyclist amongst cars on Ave. Caracas.
Bicyclists navigate amidst traffic on Ave. Septima, which badly needs a bike lane. 

A tight squeeze: A bicyclist crosses an overpass amidst traffic.

Sharing space with buses means breathing their exhaust.

A mcyclist on a bike lane near the Universidad Nacional.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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