domingo, 14 de diciembre de 2014

Bogotá's La Ciclovía Celebrates its Four Decades

Cyclists, a skater and a dog-walker on La Ciclovia.
La Ciclovía is celebrating its 40th anniversary these days: Four decades, during which it has become a Bogotá institution, given the city international fame and spread to cities across the Americas and beyond.

According to today's El Tiempo, La Ciclovia started with a  few kilometers of closed streets around carreras Septima and Trece. I've heard other origin accounts, and the truth may never be known at all or may be a combination of several stories.

Today, Bogotá's Ciclovia extends over 121 kilometers and attracts some 1.4 million participants every Sunday on bikes, feet and skates. It's often called 'the wordl's longest beach.'

La Ciclovia is a great institution. It's not only fun, but healthful, and it's just great watching all those people enjoying something healthful - a rarity for the human species.

But La Ciclovia's success and obvious benefits have prevented it from gaining enemies. In 1976 and '82 La Ciclovia's existence was formalized by decrees. Yet, during the '90s it shrunk to only 21 kms, and nearly disappeared completely, according to El Tiempo. Several years ago, a congressman who didn't like being inconvenienced while driving his car introduced a bill shifting La Ciclovia's hours from the current 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. to 5 a.m. to noon. Cyclists, common citizens and public officials past and present spoke against the idea, which died for lack of support.

Today, there are Ciclovia-like events in Medellin; Caracas, Venezuela; Santiago, Chile; Quito, Ecuador; Mexico City, and in several cities in the United States and even India. But few other cities carry out the event on such a grand scale and so frequently as Bogotá does.

Now, if only the great turnout on La Ciclovía would translate into massive bicycle use the other days of the week.
La Recrovia, which takes place in several parks and plazas during La Ciclovia. 
Ciclovia patrolers with signs commemorating 40-year anniversary.
Pull me along, little doggies.
Cycling in the rain, a common occurrence in Bogotá.

Orlando never seems to miss a Ciclovia with his placards denouncing the United States and celebrating communist Cuba.
A bicycle built for one serves for two.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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