Monday, May 16, 2011

Bogotá, How are We Doing? - May 2011

Stalled: Bogotá failed on movility. 
The latest Bogotá, How are We Doing? report isn't encouraging.

The report, by El Tiempo newspaper, La Javeriana University, Fundación Corona and the Chamber of Commerce for 2010, entitled 'The Quality of Life in Bogotá is at Risk,' finds improvement in health and education, lack of improvement in air pollution and worsening crime and traffic congestion, and a shortage of housing.

Improving: Students on an outing near La Plaza del Chorro.
The proportion of kids attending school rose, to 74% for preschoolers and 88% for elementary schools, while more students attended school for free, according to the report. Also, the proportion of public schools rated highly increased. Also, vaccination rates increased, but teenage pregnancy rates remained high.

The average speed of public transit dropped from 21 to 19 km/hr and private vehicles from 25 to 23.8 km/hr.  That's not surprising, considering all the road work going on, particularly Phase III of the Transmilenio expansion. The project was necessary, but certainly could have been carried out faster and more efficiently - and with less scandal.

Homicides rose from 26 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 2007 in 2010, and violent deaths rose from 36 per 100,000 people to 47 in 2010. Why Colombia persists with such a high homicide rate - more than double Mexico's, for example - I can not comprehend. Colombians are nice, wonderful people. Is it their fondness for drinking? Too many guns floating around?

Just shut your eyes: a belching
smokestack near Palo Quemao. 
Bogotá also scored poorly on environmental indexes. Neither air, water nor noise pollution improved. None of that's surprising - I've seen no efforts to enforce pollution controls on either industry, the ancient bus fleet or the cheap new Chinese cars being imported; the city's grand project to clean up the Bogotá River isn't advancing; and, with more cars and worsening traffic congestion and drivers' habit of leaning on their horns, it's inevitable that noise is worsening.

But in a city whose mayor has been suspended and his senator brother imprisoned in a corruption-related scandal, who can expect authorities to enforce such boring things as pollution laws?

Near La Candelaria, a new TM station is nearly completed. 
Still, overall, there's reason for encouragement. Efforts to improve health and education are starting to pay off. Transit will improve once the Transmilenio Phase III is finally, finally put into action. However, the longer-term perspective is less encouraging, unless the city takes strong measures to discourage private car use and actually enforce pollution and other laws. Perhaps the next mayor, who will belong to a political party that's not called the Polo Democratico, will actually take things in hand.

Bogotá How Are We Doing, Sept. 2010 entry

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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