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Bogota: Reclaiming Streets

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

To tame traffic after lockdown, the Colombian capital has embarked on a bike-lane building spree that's reclaiming the streets from cars and could a be model in Latin America. That's good news for the environment and health.

Bogotá is one of the most congested cities in the world with commuters losing an average of 191 hours a year sitting in traffic (that's the equivalent of 24 eight hour working days), but the city's avid cyclist Mayor Claudia López is hoping to turn the transportation tide in the city by expanding bicycle transportation. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, Bogotá is one of the cities that significantly expanded bike lanes to promote healthy transportation by introducing 84 km of emergency bike lanes to help get people where they needed to go safely. But Mayor Claudia López was just getting started. She’s counting on a vast expansion of bicycle routes as the best way for Bogotanos to move into the future. In February, López announced that the city’s development plan for the next four years would add a total of 280 additional kilometers of bike lanes to the existing 550km network, reports Bloomberg.

In addition to expanded bike lanes, the city reduced speed limits to 50km 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. “Registro Bici Bogotá” includes the user’s contact information, as well as the bike’s specific characteristics and serial number, making it harder to sell and easier to recover if stolen.

“If we are able to use our moment and our voice and our representation at this moment to push back against the car, it will be a great political gain and great environmental gain,” López said on a recent webinar organized by the Environmental Defense Fund. 

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.

Original source: Bloomberg

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