Bogotá, Colombia began the concept of ciclovías in the 1980s. A ciclovía consists of the temporary or permanent closure of a major street (or streets) to motorized vehicles so that people are free to use the roadway without concern for their safety. They are held every Sunday and on holidays from 7 AM to 3 PM allowing residents to enjoy the public space in a healthy and safe manner with the closing of over 110 kilometers of roads for biking and pedestrian activities. Every weekend over 2 million Santa Fereños (citizens of Bogotá) participate in the ciclovía enjoying outdoor activities. Complimenting the ciclovía is the recreovía, free exercise classes that citizens can participate in.

As part of a program for urban development, Bogotá has also expanded its network of ciclorutas, a network 120 kilometers (approx. 80 miles) of bicycle paths as well as comfortable pedestrian pathways have been created in Bogotá as an alternatives for daily travel. Some of the bicycle paths are located next to the main roads and secondary streets as well as passing through the parks. This has been done in order to integrate the use of the bicycle as an alternative system of transportation and at the same time to help the environment by lowering the pollution level. Since the expansion of the city's bike paths, Bogotanos have increasingly begun to use them for commuting to and from work. Bike ridership now accounts for 2% of commuters. That's up from near zero just a decade ago.

Today, ciclovías are part of Colombian culture with every major city hosting one every weekend. They have also changed the country in unexpected ways. For starters, the ciclovías are inexpensive preventive health programs. They encourage exercise. They have also increased social integration and fostered a renewed sense of civic pride. By bringing urban Colombians into the street on a weekly basis, they have interacted to a degree not possible when the streets were monopolized by motorized transport. It's led to greater citizen involvement in urban affairs in Colombia and that is having wider effects. Colombian  cities are now largely run by left-leaning progressives. Bogotá is now on its fourth consecutive left-of-centre or progressive mayor. Bogotá in 1990 was one of the worst cities in the world, today the city is a city transformed.

The concept of ciclovías has caught on in much of the world in places like Guadalajara, Santiago de Chile, Copenhagen, Paris and Ottawa (May to September) implementing them. In the United States, only El Paso among major cities has instituted them and then only during the month of May though Portland, Baltimore and San Francisco experimented with them this past year. The other US city that has implemented one is Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ciclovías foster a greater sense of community and they are cheap. It's recreation for a recession.

More at Walk and Bike for Life. For more on ciclovías in the United States, please visit Bike Portland, Ciclovia El Paso, and Portland Car Free Day.

For more on Bogotá's ciclorutas, please visit Ciclorutas. And finally, here's an article from the Chrisian Science Monitor.

Tags: Bogotá, ciclovías, Colombia, transportation solutions, urban planning (all tags)



Re: Ciclovas
San Francisco's turned to crap when a top donor to Newsom who owns a tourist trap complained that people from outside of SF wouldn't visit. I met Enrique Penalosa when he was mayor and admired what he'd done -- especially public transit and 100,000 new trees. I'll give Newsom credit for providing the wine that night.
by Bob Brigham 2009-01-10 09:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

Enrique Peñalosa changed Bogotá with its TransMilenio BRT system. He broke the bus mafia. I'll write a post on it sometime. Here in SF, we're working on two BRT corridors. One for Van Ness and another for Geary. Frankly, I'd like to do a light rail for Geary asap.

I had hopes that Peñalosa would run for President. I'd even move back to Colombia and work for him but it doesn't appear that he will.

by Charles Lemos 2009-01-10 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

love this diary - thanks.

by canadian gal 2009-01-10 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

Well thanks. I was going to post on Canada and Sir John MacDonald but I'll just let you read on my blog.

Talking with Canadians.

I am curious if you could update us on the prorogue.

by Charles Lemos 2009-01-10 09:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

good point and totally true.

by canadian gal 2009-01-11 03:57AM | 0 recs
Twice a year our two blocks are closed.

We have a summer block party and then a fall October fest when we close two blocks of our urban Chicago residential street to cars. We gather and have a potluck and the kids ride bikes and play in the street. When evening comes we haul out the portable metal firepits and carry on into the night. When we are required to reopen the street at 10pm the hardcore partiers move the fire to the sidwalk and carry on to 2 in the morning.

by Jeff Wegerson 2009-01-11 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

I greatly enjoyed this article. Thanks!

by desertjedi 2009-01-11 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

Miami has a monthly ciclovia. San Francisco will be doing 5 or 6 this year, up from 2 last year. Schedule is not set yet.

You can Chicago and Pasadena also had events. i/ciclovia

by shmooth 2009-01-12 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Ciclovas

We had three car-free days in Seattle this summer too. 51_carfree08.html

by mattbot69 2009-01-14 12:20AM | 0 recs


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