viernes, 28 de octubre de 2016

A Bicycle Promotion Law

Cyclists in a bike lane in north Bogotá.
A law approved by Parliament this week promotes bicycle use - but only half-heartedly.

The instructs mass transit agencies to provide bike parking, but doesn't appear to specify exactly how much parking, or what sort of conditions. Bogotá's TransMilenio has some impressive, massive bike parking lots on end-line stations - but the great majority of stations have no bike parking at all. Will this actually be enforced, or will transit agencies just plop a cheap bike rack in a back lot somewhere?

The law also requires government agencies - but not private companies - to provide bike parking equal to 10% of their car parking. That's not a lot, and it only covers public agencies. So, it's a step forward, but only a small one.

The law includes some interesting incentives. Those who travel to the public bus systems by bike for
Biking down Carrera Septima.
30 days get one free bus ride. That's not much, but it's something. And public workers who commute by bike are to get a paid afternoon off for every 30 bike commutes.

Transit systems are also supposed to try to make arrangements for riders to travel with their bicycles, as well as equip vehicles with bike racks. Will transit systems cooperate with this? How many cyclists would risk mounting their bike on the back of a bus, within reach of thieves at every stoplight?
A parked vehicle blocks a bike lane.
Enforcing traffic laws might help.

The new bike law is a step forward, at least as a public signal that the nation does support two-wheeled transit. But it also falls way short - primarily in its failure to include private companies in its policies. I suppose that the parliamentarians didn't want to make enemies.

The law also has a huge failure. Apparently (I've read only news reports about it), the law doesn't bother to define a bicycle as a 'motorless vehicle powered by its rider.' Doing that would finally ban those polluting, dangerous motorized bikes from bike lanes, sidewalks and La Ciclovia.

Still a bicycle? A noisy, polluting bike-with-a-motor.

lunes, 12 de septiembre de 2016

Steps Forward, Steps Back

In the year or so since my camera broke and I got too busy to blog, Bogotá has moved forward on some bike issues - and backward on others.

They've added bike lanes - some of which are actually useful and well-used.

A new bike lane in Teusaquillo actually demands respect for cyclists.

But here's what traffic does to the lane. (Spot the cyclist trying to cross Avenida Caracas.)

And which transit genius decided that nobody would ever want to enter the lane from the west?

And here's a lane along Calle 11 in north Bogotá. It's satisfying pedaling past cars stuck in traffic.

But I just wish they'd keep the motorized bikes out of the lanes...

More to the south, the lane still runs on the sidewalk. Here's a rare sight: a bicycle traffic jam.
And, finally after years satisfying what's a personal issue of mine, after years of delay and mulitple complaints from cyclists, the city's transit geniuses finally decided that cyclistas had the right to safely cross this street behind the Central Cemetery. Until they retimed the lights, giving cyclists and pedestrians time to cross. They even added a signal for cyclists.

Green means go for cyclists.
But that doesn't stop cars from parking in the bike lanes.
Previously, as soon as the cars driving north across the bike lane stopped, other cars immediately starting turning left across the lane. That left no time between car traffic for bikes or pedestrians to cross, generating constant conflicts between cyclists and motorists. 

But the news isn't so great for public bikes. 

A few months ago, then-new Mayor Enrique Peñalosa - who campaigned for mayor on a bike - terminate the IDRD's bike lending programs on Carrera 7, in the Universidad Nacional and Parque El Virrey. Apparently, the program cost too much. 

The program was, irrationaly, limited. You coul not pick up a bike in one part of the city and drop it off in another, for example. But it was Bogotá's only public bikes lending program. 

That was then: Public bikes on Carrera Septima.
Where are they now? Rusting away somewhere.
And the city's much-vaunted general public bikes program, which Mayor Petro issued the contract for last year?

Not a single bike has hit a street. That's not surprising, since neither the Colombian nor the Chinese companies which one the contract had experience with bicycles, the Colombian partner had been involved in two corruption scandals, and the contract's business model was totally unrealistic. (The contractee was supposed to pay the city, whereas just about everywhere else, public bikes lending schemes lose money and are either subsidized by their cities or receive lots of advertising income.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours