jueves, 9 de octubre de 2014

Back on the Bikes at La Nacho

Set to pedal. National University students set out on the new public bikes.
A few years ago, the Universidad Nacional's Bogotá campus bought thousands of simple bikes, painted them green and distributed them around campus. The idealistic concept was that students and others would píck up a bike, pedal it to their destination, and leave it there for someone else to use.
Riding in the rain on a public
bike in La Nacho.
Unfortunately, the users were not so ideal. The bikes got abused, damaged and stolen.

Since nobody knew who had used a particular bike, nobody was held responsible. Finally, the the university, known as La Nacho, scrapped the program. 

But now, with 5 lending stations and 115 salvaged and repaired bikes, the program's on again. This time, however, there's responsibility. Users must first register and then show their I.D. each time they use a bike. Eventually, planners hope to have 1,000 public bikes.

Long time coming. Looks like the National University
campus finally has a much-needed bike repair stand. 
The disadvantage of this arrangement is its expense, and the fact that campus visitors can't use the bikes. But that's a small price for having a system which actually works.

Of course, La Nacho never stopped being a bike-friendly place. Thousands of students and others pedal the flat campus every day on their own bikes.

Might this nudge Bogotá officials to actually create a real city-wide public bikes program? Let us hope.

Update: During my frequents visits to the campus I've seen very few people actually using the public bikes. And today, Oct. 29, I learned why. For some senseless reason, the program was not arranged thru the university's central administration, but thru individual schools. As of Oct. 29 only 2 of the campus's 11 schools, arts and engineering, have signed up. Students not in one of those two majors can't use the bikes unless they've registered on their own for the program.
The public bikes program is being administered by the city's Instituto de Recreacion y Deporte (IDRD), which also runs the public bikes on Ave. Septima.
The public bikes can be walked, too.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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