|Cyclists on La Septima.|
The mayor's pedestrianization of the stretch of Ave. Septima between 19th and 25th streets has gotten lots of criticism: some shopowners say that it's reduced sales, made taxis scarce and brought more trash and beggars. Informal vendors have invaded the street and sidewalks, they complain.
But, I walk and bike that street every day, and I'm not convinced that these are real problems - or at least that they can't be addressed.
|Pedestrians walk down the center of La Septima, |
passing in front of the Teatro Gaitan.
What is clear, is that in many ways La Septima has turned into a much more pleasant, dynamic place. It's become pleasant to walk, skate and bicycle on this part of the street, now that you're not imperiled by chaotic traffic and gassed by fumes. It's also opened the street to art and music, which were near impossible with vehicles honking and screeaching a few yards away.
|Bikes to lend on La Septima. But the program |
only covers these six pedestrianized blocks.
Mayor Petro is studying the viability of expanding the pedestrian corridor all the way south to Plaza Bolivar. But I wonder about the
|City workers arrange planter boxes in the street.|
impact on the city's historical center when all of Ave. Septima's traffic is forced thru old town's narrow streets.
The city government has some ideas to make the car-free Septima more amenable, such as permitting shops to set up umbrellas and chairs on the wide sidewalks.
|An informal concert in the evening.|
Pedestrianization has potential to make downtown, now full of pollution, noise and traffic jams, more humane and liveable. But that will take real reform of the city's transport system, including a planned light rail line on La Septima.
|Books for sale on the sidewalk.|
|In the evening the sidewalk turns into a literal sales floor for random stuff.|
|This sidewalk was not invaded by vendors...during the day.|
|While this sidewalk, on a non-pedestrianized part of La Septima, was invaded by vendors.|
|A cyclist carries his kid home down the middle of La Septima.|
|Planting trees in the planters would improve the street.|
|As would cleaning up trash and graffiti.|
|A man places a poster amidst graffiti. A lot could be done to improve the street's appearance, such as hiring some talented street artists.|
|I took these photos a few blocks south on La Septima. Pedestrianization does not fill the sidewalk with vendors.|
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours