Bogotá pedals towards a bike-centered transportation future

Bogotá is one of the most congested cities in the world with commuters losing an average of 191 hours a year sitting in traffic, but avid cyclist Mayor Claudia López is hoping to turn the transportation tide in the city by expanding bicycle transportation. 

As we discussed at the beginning of the pandemic, Bogotá is one of the cities that significantly expanded bike paths to promote healthy transportation. With public buses operating at just 35 percent of maximum capacity, the city hoped that 84 kilometers of emergency bike lanes would get people where they needed to go safely. 

Now, the city is looking beyond the pandemic to incorporate bike lanes as a long term solution for reliable green transportation. In addition to expanded bike lanes, the city reduced speed limits to 50 kilometers per hour citywide and declared that at least 20 percent of public and private parking must be put aside for bikes. The city also established a bike registration database to reduce theft and more easily locate stolen bikes. 

Despite its hilly terrain, Bogotá has been a leader in urban cycling since 1974 when it established “la gran manifestación del pedal” (the great pedal demonstration) and shut down city streets for a citywide biking event in which 5,000 residents participated. The event quickly turned into a weekly phenomenon where every Sunday and holiday streets are closed for a Ciclovía in which residents bike, skate, and jog throughout the city. 

Although propelled by the pandemic, the pro-bike movement seems to be taking a permanent foothold in many cities. According to a survey by Lima Cómo Vamos, an organization that has been championing bicycles since it was founded a decade ago, 11 percent of those who previously used cars indicated a preference to switch to bikes and 32 percent of those who previously used public transport also plan to shift to bikes.

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Bogotá pedals towards a bike-centered transportation future

Bogotá is one of the most congested cities in the world with commuters losing an average of 191 hours a year sitting in traffic, but avid cyclist Mayor Claudia López is hoping to turn the transportation tide in the city by expanding bicycle transportation. 

As we discussed at the beginning of the pandemic, Bogotá is one of the cities that significantly expanded bike paths to promote healthy transportation. With public buses operating at just 35 percent of maximum capacity, the city hoped that 84 kilometers of emergency bike lanes would get people where they needed to go safely. 

Now, the city is looking beyond the pandemic to incorporate bike lanes as a long term solution for reliable green transportation. In addition to expanded bike lanes, the city reduced speed limits to 50 kilometers per hour citywide and declared that at least 20 percent of public and private parking must be put aside for bikes. The city also established a bike registration database to reduce theft and more easily locate stolen bikes. 

Despite its hilly terrain, Bogotá has been a leader in urban cycling since 1974 when it established “la gran manifestación del pedal” (the great pedal demonstration) and shut down city streets for a citywide biking event in which 5,000 residents participated. The event quickly turned into a weekly phenomenon where every Sunday and holiday streets are closed for a Ciclovía in which residents bike, skate, and jog throughout the city. 

Although propelled by the pandemic, the pro-bike movement seems to be taking a permanent foothold in many cities. According to a survey by Lima Cómo Vamos, an organization that has been championing bicycles since it was founded a decade ago, 11 percent of those who previously used cars indicated a preference to switch to bikes and 32 percent of those who previously used public transport also plan to shift to bikes.

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