In Bogotá, "Mejor en Bici" Shows the City Is Better on a Bicycle

Photo: ##https://blogs.dal.ca/sustainabilitynews/2012/07/##Dalhousie University##

Bogotá, Colombia, has a deserved reputation as one of the best biking cities in Latin America. Former mayor Enrique Peñalosa helped endow the city with a system of all-ages bikeways. But like many global cities, Bogotá still struggles with congestion and car dependence, and cycling rates during the week are much lower than the weekends, when everyone comes out for the city’s famous Ciclovía.

One group trying to encourage more cycling is Mejor en Bici — “better on bike.” Mejor en Bici gets people who may be new to cycling on bikes, mainly by working with employers to encourage cycling among their workforce. Network blog This Big City explains:

Since 2009, Mejor en bici (Better on bike) has promoted the use of bicycles in Bogotá as a solution for chaotic urban mobility issues and also to develop better lifestyles amongst citizens. They work with companies, universities and communities to design strategies and develop programs and partnerships helping people use bicycles as their main way to move from home to work or to study.

The key driver for the creation of Mejor en bici was the increasing number of cars on the streets of Bogotá. It is typical for a small family in Bogotá to have 2 or 3 cars, causing huge congestion. The bicycle is proving to be the best alternative. Mejor en bici works primarily with the private sector, which is much more agile and efficient than the public sector and the common target for urban mobility initiatives.

A video at This Big City goes into more detail about how Mejor en Bici appeals to different types of riders and help folks overcome the fear of the first trip. Program directors would like to see it evolve into a public bike-share system for the city.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Indy reports that a state senator is promoting a roads-only regional transportation plan as an alternative to the transit-oriented plan IndyGo. New Haven Safe Streets says an Ohio State University study on “distracted walking” may have over-reached in its conclusions. And Mobilizing the Region relays the happy news that the city of Camden, New Jersey, is the latest Garden State city to embrace a complete streets policy.

  • It is in no way
    typical for a small Bogotano family to have 2 or 3 cars. Only the wealthy elite
    (read the top 5 percent) can afford such extravagance. It is the selfish
    lifestyles of these elite households that create the traffic and misery that
    forces the transit-riding majority to spend multiple hours commuting each day.
    Yes, the Transmilenio is in separated lanes, but it is operating above capacity
    and most people still ride buses in mixed traffic. I don’t mean to disparage
    the efforts people trying to expand the cycling culture in Bogotá. I myself
    ride the ciclorutas every day. But if this article is for a Western audience,
    it needs to be pointed out that the struggle here is not the same as in
    developed cities where nearly everyone drives. This is not about trying to
    change the habits of the majority for the betterment of all. It is about
    fighting for the rights of the majority in the face of a largely apathetic or
    even malicious elite minority. A minority that drives Mercedes and BMWs at a
    seemingly much higher rate than in developed cities while the majority lives in
    poverty. A minority that still humiliatingly refers to their (usually dark
    skinned) servants as “boy” and “girl” and has them sleep in windowless closets usually located directly off the laundry rooms of their 200
    square meter flats. Ignoring these realities actually diminishes the
    accomplishments of Mr. Peñalosa and others who have brought real change to the
    city in spite of this obstinate elite. I think it is very important as a global
    community of activists for us to share not only our successes, but also the
    challenges that we face and the means by which we overcame them. We see a lot
    of the challenges and setbacks suffered in the US in this space and that is a
    good thing.

  • Ted King

    Per Google, 200 square meters (or two ares) is equal to 2153 sq.ft. (rounded). That’s the equivalent of a decent sized house in the U.S.

  • SweetDickD

    that’s correct. the wealthy live well in colombia, as the first comment is trying to communicate.

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