Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ciclovía Trims Bogotá's Budget and its Waistline


Cyclovia riders on Bogotá's Seventh Ave. 
Bogotá's Sunday/holiday Ciclovía has gained worldwide fame and been imitated in cities across the Americas - altho never as ambitiously as in Bogotá.

But here at home La Ciclovia is sometimes criticized and even ridiculed as an expensive, frivolous event which - God forbid! - inconveniences car drivers.

Aerobics in the National Park. Part of La Ciclovía's
accompanying Recrovia program. 
But a study recently published in the Journal of Urban Health found that Ciclovia-type events are not only good for the health, but are good business, too.

The study looked at the 'Ciclovias' in Bogotá, Medellin, Guadalara, Mexico and San Francisco, California and compared the costs of the events to the savings in health care expenses they produced. All four events saved money, ranging from about a 20% return in the case of Guadalajara to a return of between 323 and 426 percent in the case of Bogotá.

And those payback numbers don't include things like economic productivity, since a healthy happy person is generally a more productive worker, who misses fewer days and has fewer health care expenses.

Kids on new Christmas bikes. 
Of course, economics isn't the best reason for holding Ciclovias. They're fun and improve quality of life, particularly for lower-income people, who could never afford a gym membership.

So, even tho economics should be secondary for such a wonderful activity, the fact that Bogotá's famous Ciclovia also makes good business sense provides yet another justification when the auto-addicts insist that 'frivolous activities' such as cycling, skating and walking should give way to important ones, which generally involve sedentarism, fossil fuel burning and pollution.

Comparative weekly costs of various physical activity programs.
Bogotá's Ciclovia, the least expensive, is on the far left. 


By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours