Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Step Too far on Pedestrianization?

Transmilenio buses on Ave. Jimenez. Are their days numbered?
Pedestrians and passengers outside Museo de Oro station.
If Jimenez is pedestrianized, this station would
likely be closed. 
Banning loud, dangerous and polluting automobiles can do wonders for city centers, and has humanized Ave. Septima.
But ban all motorized traffic from Jimenez Ave., as Mayor Petro reportedly wants to do?

Jimenez Ave., which connects Ave. Septima to various universities, La Candelaria and the city's Eastern Hills, is also known as the Eje Ambiental, or  the Environmental Axis. But the traffic jams and air pollution have made that a misnomer. But eliminating TransMilenio - despite its uncontrolled smog belching - isn't the way to fix that - just the reverse, rather. 

Las Aguas TM station, which would be closed if buses are
banned from Jimenez Ave. This station was recently expanded
with the addition of an underground tunnel connecting it to
the new Universidades Station. 
Such a move would not only deal a blow to the historical center and its universities, but also discourage use of public transit - ultimately increasing traffic jams throughout the city. 

Delivering public bikes on La Septima.
Why not expand the program up Jimenez Ave.?
Pedaling public bikes on Ave. Septima. 
What La Jimenez really needs is a more efficient TM service, with low-emission buses, to discourage private car use. (Unfortunately, TM just postponed its incorporation of low-emission buses until next year.) At the same time, the city should make the common sense move of expanding the bicycle lending program now operating along Ave. Septima by adding stations along the Eje Ambiental into La Candelaria and to Los Andes University. Even so, however, a lot of people won't want to pedal uphill. Public transit is fundamental to the neighborhood, and TM plays a fundamental role on La Jimenez. 

Traffic jam on Jimenez Ave. What good are
cars when they move more slowly than pedestrians?
On the other hand, banning or heavily restricting the use of private cars on La Jimenez and the historical center would make sense. Today, private cars are increasingly congesting the historical center, making it loud, unpleasant, polluted and dangerous for children. Pedestrianizing some of the streets, as planners have proposed repeatedly, would bring the neighborhood a calm and restore some of its historic atmosphere. Motorized vehicles, after all, aren't very colonial. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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