Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Walking Revolution on Seventh Ave.

Cars stay out: Seventh Ave. at 19th Street. 
Seventh Ave. showed off its new look today as a calm, walkable, breathable street, which remains a transit corridor, even if some people will deny that.

Only 152 days left!
The long-delayed demolition of Seventh Ave.'s bridge over 26th St. was done today as part of the two new TransMilenio lines being built on 10 Ave and 26th St. This is one of the last, but also the longest and most difficult steps in the troubled expansion project, which originally was supposed to be finished in 2010. City officials say that building a new and presumably better bridge will take five months - and we all know how accurate their previous projections have been.

This couple with a bicycle and a baby
carriage found a clear path on Seventh Ave. 
But Mayor Gustavo Petro is using the demolition of this major bridge to experiment in 'humanistic' transit planning, by pedestrianizing a stretch of Seventh Ave. Today, the blocks between 19th and 26th Streets and beyond were off limits to almost all motor vehicles. The stretch of Seventh Ave. between Plaza Bolivar and 19th St. will follow, Petro has said. This is a sort of test for a possible permanent pedestrianization of central Bogotá, Petro says.

'Enjoy this new pedestrian
space...Give up hurrying.' 
The pedestrianization is opposed by many retailers, including the National Federation of Retailers, FENALCO. Retailers are concerned that fewer shoppers will venture downtown and that the closed street will be invaded by pickpockets and illegal, informal vendors. But in some other cities pedestrianization has helped retailers, by making shopping safer and more pleasant.

Green means 'go' for cyclists. 

The city has already drawn a bike lane down the center of Seventh Ave. 

Lots of cops keeping order and keeping street vendors away. But will they stay?

But this cyclist wasn't using it...

The only motorized vehicles on this stretch of Seventh were these TransMilenio shuttles. A good idea. 

26th St., seen from 10th Ave. 
The chasm at 26th St. 
...and the remains of the bridge. 

The city built this nice pedestrian bridge detouring around the demolished bridge. 
The city is roofing over 26th St., which will expand Parque de la Independencia and connect it to the Museum of Modern Art. 

North of 26th St., pedestrians ruled, too. 
On 10 Ave., the TransMilenio work has advanced. Hopefully, they won't wait for the bridge to get it operating.  
As always, the chess players were doing their thing. 
The usual vendors are still around. 
Playing foot volleyball in the middle of Seventh Ave. 
19th St. Crowded and chaotic. 
The sidewalk south of 19th St. was busier and crowded with the usual vendors. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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