|Car-Free Day? But look at how blue the sky is!|
|A group of U. de los Andes students pedaling home. But|
how many of them rode the next day?
The reason why air pollution declined was made plain by El Tiempo's photos of the same spot on the Autopista Norte at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday - on Wednesday the traffic, mostly private cars, was congested and crawled along (while the Transmilenio buses did advance). On Thursday the buses, no longer blocked by private cars, advanced freely. (El Tiempo reported that public transit moved 15 percent faster.)
But, as this essay argues, the car-free day seems to have lost its original didactic purpose. Sure, I saw a few signs and posters boasting about the benefits of cleaner air. But, when Car-Free Day was created during the mayoralty of Enrique Peñalosa, it was supposed to encourage car owners to think of others ways of getting around. Of course, that's a lot to ask of a one-day event, especially in a city in which every car is banned from circulating two days each week anyway, based on its license plate number. This commentary describes the day as pretty futile, while this one describes Bogotá's traffic troubles without suggesting a solution.
Rather, based on what I've heard from callers to radio stations, most Bogotá car-owners think of the car-free day as a nuisance to be suffered through. For many, probably, it's an excuse to take a day off of work, which I guess that's their problem. But if the city really wants this event to make a difference, it should create a real educational campaign, together with serious economic incentives and disincentives, to get people out of their cars. Of course, the very best solution would be to make every day car-free day.
|On Friday, smog's back again.|
Despite everything, Car-Free Day is important if only because it generates discussion about transit solutions here, and for at least one day a congested, car-crammed reality isn't taken for granted. Unfortunately, we're still waiting for real solutions (since Pico y Placa has so obviously failed): this article advocates measures including more bikes and carpools, but doesn't touch on the fundamental problem: too many damn cars!
Meanwhile, feeling quite quixotic, several of us from Bogota Bike Tours protested against air pollution along smoggy Seventh Ave.
On Car-Free Day, the city government announced several measures to combat air pollution, including banning those pollution-belching two-cycle motorcycles, requiring catalitic converters and filters on some vehicles and placing pollution limits on brick factories. But, judging by the utter lack of enforcement of existing laws, one wonders whether these will mean anything.
Anti-pollution laws, sadly, appear to be thoroughly ignored in this city - both by polluters and by those charged with enforcing the law. So, we're campaigning to change that!
|No more air pollution!|