martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

An Anti-Cyclists Intersection

Cyclists riding east along the Calle 24 bike lane cross Carrera 19. 
Despite boasting one of the city's very few protected, on-road bike lanes, along Calle 24 the car's have all the rights, and cyclists none. At the crossing with Carrera 19, at any time, the stoplights are either giving eastbound drivers on Calle 24 the green light to turn left across the bike lane, or are green for northbound drivers on Calle 19.
But cars turning left from Calle 24 onto Carrera 19 cut them off.
Last year, I sent the city's transit department a complaint about this, and they replied with a six-stage scheme for reworking the intersection. I replied that all they really needed to do was alter the timing of the stoplights. Since then, naturally, they've done nothing at all.

The anti-bicycle intersection.

This is the worst anti-cyclist intersection I know of, but not the only one. A bit west on 26th St. in front of the Inpec headquarters, the lights gives cyclists and pedestrians only about 5 seconds to cross with all three lights green. Those who don't manage to dash across must stop and wait, stop and wait, crossing in three stages as the various lights turn green.

And, as soon as the vehicles stop turning left, the traffic along Carrera 19 begins crossing.
Where do we cyclists go from here?
Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 26 de febrero de 2015

A Safety Ride Goes Wrong

A group of bike readers on their way to the bike forum in Medellin.
On the road: Biking toward Medellin.
(Photo: Twitter)
To demonstrate their commitment to cycling, as well as travel in healthy, planet-friendly fashion, a group of 25 Bogotá cyclists decided to pedal the 450 kilometers from Bogotá to the Fourth Bicycle Forum, being held right now in Medellin.

Along the way, they would develop plans for safe cycling. After all, one of forum's presentations was to be 'Creating Safe Streets.'

However, safety issues became very concrete for the group when, early in the morning of Feb. 23, several of the group's riders were hit by a truck.

'This morning at 5:45 a.m. a truck ran over us,' participant Manuel Lancheros wrote on Facebook. 'Paula Alejandra Enciso and I ended up badly injured and lost our bicycles. We will continue our trip to Medellin by car. See you there!'

"My knees are banged up, my elbows are scraped," Enciso told El Tiempo.

Fortunately, their injuries were minor and both were released after a short hospital stay.

'I feel much better now,' Lancheros added the next day.

Ironically, the Bike Forum was founded in Brazil several years ago after a driver ran over some 20 cyclists.

Manuel and Paula in the hospital. (Photo: Twitter)
By Mike Ceaser of Bogotá Bike Tours.

miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2015

Armored Invasion of La Ciclovía!

This Sunday, this armored car driver decided that La Ciclovía provided a convenient route to wherever he was heading. The folks in charge of La Ciclovia, who presumably are there to defend cyclists' rights and safety, either didn't notice or didn't care.

Unfortunately, the incident is symptomatic of the way motorized vehicles, particularly motorcycle, invade cyclists' territory.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

Finally, a Flat Fixer at La Nacho!

Flats fixed here, finally!
A crowded bike rack on the
National University campus.
Since my first visit many years ago to the National University, with its thousands of bikes, I've been perplexed by the fact that the campus lacks a public bike repair shop. After all, it's not as tho the campus lacked entrepreneurs: the campus's walkways are crowded with food and arts and crafts vendors.

Now, finally, someone has partially filled this inexplicable hole by setting up a flat fixing kiosk by the university's 26th St. entrance.

Perhaps this will inspire a few more ambitious people to set up bike repair shops around this city, where most bike shops are irrationally concentrated along a few streets.

A cyclist on the National University campus.
Blog by Mike Ceaser of Bogota Bike Tours.

jueves, 5 de febrero de 2015

More Bikes, Fewer Cars - For One Day

A momentary bicycle-jam on Carrera Septima as these cyclists wait for a light to change.

Air pollution dropped 21%, and the city was lots quieter and more peaceful during Bogotá's 2015 Car-Free Day. And, even compared to previous years, my unscientific impression is that this year many more cyclists turned out. 

But will they pedal again another day?
Lots of pedalers turned out today - but how many of them will pedal tomorrow?
Not all the streets are as cycle-friendly as la Septima. This guy's maneuvering between buses on Carrera 10.
Don't ride behind me. Nearby, a bus belches smoke. It's Car-Free Day, not pollution-free day, silly.
Back on the friendly Carrera Septima. 
This usually congested street in downtown was so clear that these guys could ride against traffic.

The IDRD's public lending bikes reappeared today. But will they tomorrow?

A moto-bici illegally uses an exclusive TransMilenio bus lane. 
This year for the first time no-car day was also no-motorcycle day. But, insanely, the prohibition did not extend to the moto-bicis, bicycles equipped with gasoline engines, which make lots of noise and pollute more than do many cars.

But today's El Tiempo also carried this disastrous new item: New car sales as ahead of last year's record new car sales.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

jueves, 22 de enero de 2015

A Trashy Public Bikes Contract?

Cyclists on Bogotá's Sunday Ciclovia.
This Monday, Bogotá postponed bidding for its long-planned public bicycles program - for the third time. It's not difficult seeing why. 

Only two 'temporary unions' bid to manage the system, supposed to start out with almost 1,500 bikes. The first 'union' consists of the Jiangsu Home Technology Co Ltda. y Cartagüeña de Aseo Total ESP. A Google search found no trace of the home tech company, which presumably is based in the Chinese coastal province. 

Used, disfunctional garbage trucks imported by
one of the bidders for Bogotá's public bkes program.
In contrast, Cartagüeña de Aseo Total's malfunctioning website states that it was founded in 1993 to collaborate effectively in the solution to the problem which the capital's inhabitants were suffering due to non-opportune collection of garbage, which was causing epidemics and environmental contamination.' That apparently was in 1994. As anybody can observe, Bogotá's trash troubles haven't changed.

According to the website, Cartagueña de Aseo is owned by Óscar Salazar Franco, the same man who sold Bogotá 60 used garbage trucks imported from the U.S., only 13 of which were usable. Also according to Laotracarain 2004 Salazar Franco was involved in a corruption scandal in the city on Neiva, in which he was sentenced to 54 months in prison for allegedly bribing officials to award his company a garbage collection contract.

The other 'temporary union' consists of Transporte Masivo en mi Bici SAS, Gestión y Consultoría Integral SAS, Inversiones y representaciones Vásquez and PBSC Urban Solutions America Inc.My Google searches did not produce any record of any of those companies having done anything. However, Laotracara that Urban Solutions is associated with companies which operate public bike programs in the United States, Canada and Britain.

A bicyclist on Carrera Septima, squeezed by buses.
One would think that the Urban Solutions group would be the clear favorite. However, Laotracara reports that Salazar Franco's bidding group offered the city a much larger - and apparently unrealistic - percentage of their projected revenues. 

It seems to me that there's a fundamental problem here. Mayor Petro, an ex-guerrilla leader with little love for capitalism, seems particularly challenged when contracting out city projects. Why haven't more respected companies with real experience running public bike programs expressed interest in running Bogotá's system? (Read Laotracara's article for details of the economic challenges.)

Of course, there are many reasons to question the success of a public bikes program here, including crime, air pollution, rain and vehicular chaos, which will frighten away many potential users. But if it works in cities like Santiago, Mexico City and Medellin, then why not here?

Bogotá leaders have for years talked about creating a public bikes program. But the idea has stayed in park, while other regional cities, including Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Mexico City; and even Medellin have created them. Around the year 2000, Bogotá was seen as a leader in urban cycling in the developing world, but has since fallen behind. A successful public bikes program would be a big boost for the city's cycling and its quality of life generally. But this contracting process appears to be steering toward disaster.

If that happens, it'll be a big black eye for Bogotá and cycling here in general.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

domingo, 18 de enero de 2015

The Parking Paradox

Here's a dramatic illustration of the huge difference in space occupied by parked bicycles and a single parked car - and not even a big car (parked illegally on a sidewalk).

It's perverse and destructive, then, that society invests so much in subsidizing car parking - but often doesn't let bikes park at all. A case in point were the recent stories in El Tiempo reporting that many apartment buildings don't allow residents to park their bicycles in their parking garages. Cars, including old ones, apparently give a building status, whereas a bicycle by definition hurts a building's image.

The building owners would do better by encouraging residents to trade their cars for bicycles, thus saving space, cleaning the air and improving residents' health. The same is true for all the businesses which scramble to offer free parking for drivers but shun cyclists.

Have those businesses thot about the huge costs of building and maintaining those parking garages? Has the city government reflected about how much better and more efficiently the city would function if it shifted its huge subsidies and other incentives for cars instead to more sustainable transit, like bicycles.

Blog by Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours