Friday, September 28, 2012

Is Bogotá Ready for Public Bikes?

National University students exhibited proposed models for public bikes for Bogotá on the Plaza del Che today, under the watchful eyes of the Cuban-Argentine revolutionary and the guerrilla priest Camilo Torres. 
Some of the designs didn't seem practical, since shared public bikes need to be solid, sturdy, inexpensive and easy to use for bike novices. Also, they shouldn't be desireable to bike thieves. 

Cycling on the car-free Ave. Septima.  
In any case, if students at the National University, where you hear lots of talk about the communist revolution which never comes, can help make public bikes a success, they may deserve credit for a another kind of revolution, in sustainable transit. 

Bogotá officials have talked about bringing a public bicycle scheme to Bogotá for years, while doing nothing. Just a few months ago, they promised to have public bikes on the street next year. Bogotá's only public experiments have been mixed. A pilot public bikes program got a positive reception, but was unceremoniously ended. The National University, known as La Nacho, tried offering shared bikes, but the experiment was ended after many bikes got damaged or stolen - even tho the campus is a closed area with guards at the gates. For the past few weeks, the city has lent bikes for free on the 20 pedestrian-only blocks of Ave. Septima. But, since the bikes are free and the street closed to cars, the program could hardly not succeed.
Unfortunately, biking conditions in most of the rest of Bogotá aren't as nice as the car-free Septima and the National University. 

A homeless person set up camp in this bike lane....

....and this SUV driver thot that his vehicle had priority on both the bike lane and sidewalk .

Trying out a prototype public bike at the National University. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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