Emerging Bike Capital: Bogotá

Travel News — By Alex Resnik on August 23, 2011 at 10:23 am

Think of bike-friendly cities and the list might include many European, and possibly some North American metropolises. But a developing South American capital?

According to Treehugger, over the past ten years the city of Bogotá, Colombia has quietly invested in its bicycle transportation infrastructure. The result has been massive: over 300 kilometers of protected bikeways, connected in a useful network that links some of the city’s richest areas with some of its poorest. Carlos Felipe Pardo, Transportation Consultant for Bogotá, explains:

It is a true network of cycling, and it’s a true network of high-quality bicycle infrastructure.


Via Streetfilms

But getting Bogotá’s residents out of their cars and balancing on two wheels hasn’t been easy. It’s taken a shift in cultural attitudes around cycling itself. Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, said:

People used to be ashamed of using a bicycle because that was a sign of being the poorest of the poor. When we built a very high quality bicycle infrastructure –besides protecting cyclists – this is powerful a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30,000 car.

Bicycle ridership has already gone up from 0.1% to 5% of the population, the former mayor estimates. We’re glad to see there are some alternative gears turning over at Bogotá City Hall.

Image: carlosfpardo/Flickr

Tags: bike lanes, bogota, Colombia, enrique penalosa, treehugger


  • Richard McColl says:

    Being a Bogota resident I am pleased to see this blog, but, in reality, the truth is far from rosy. Bike lanes do extend across the city but they are infrequently used as there is little or no respect for cyclists and their space. Vendors set up stalls on the bike lanes, there are even cases of bus stops (not used either) placed on top of bike lanes and to add to the mayhem, the continual construction and upgrading – so long delayed due to rampant corruption – of Bogota’s mass transit systems has eaten into the fine work done by the former mayors of Penalosa and Mockus.

    the only time you’ll see large numbers of cyclists out and about are on Sundays and public holidays when there is the popular ciclovia and many major routes are given over to cyclists.

    Imagine that on car free day when cyclists are meant to rule the roost: you will see, dozens of buses, taxis, armed escorts, politicians and diplomats in their cars. Given the huge amount of the aforementioned, car-free day is a misnomer.

  • Rachel Greenberg says:

    Richard –
    Wow thanks for the local insight! So interesting. Definitely differs from the info we’ve seen. Great to know.


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