Friday, March 7, 2014

Pity the Oppressed Private Car!

One fewer lane for cars? Caracas Ave. in Teusaquillo.
Yesterday, transit officials announced that, in response to protests over inadequate TransMilenio service, the city will take one lane in each direction from car traffic and give them to TM buses on Caracas Ave./Autopista Norte during rush hours.

A driver asserts his equal rights by occupying
nearly as much road space as a bus.
The decision produced the predictable crying and gnashing of teeth from car drivers, who say this change, supposed to happen beginning March 17, will make congestion even worse for private cars on this avenue. The drivers are right. But the measure will also open up much more road capacity for bus riders.

Asserting equal rights for cars by parking illegally
on a narrow street, blocking a bus from passing.
Still, private car users, who likely driver into and out of the city alone every day, didn't hesitate to wail. Take 'Arja', who left this comment on El Tiempo's forum: 'They're violating the fundamental right to equality for us drivers of private vehicles...that we should all enjoy the same rights, liberties and opportunities. The state will promote conditions for real and effective equality.' And commentator 'AlvaroIsaza' predicted that the next step would be prohibition of private cars. (If only that were possible!)

By 'equal rights' what these writers mean, it seems to me, is the right to drive anywhere anytime, no matter the impacts on the city. And god forbid that they, in their comfortable private cars occupying dozens of square meters of road space, should be 'oppressed' by those evil, bullying riders crowded into standing-room-only buses.

Oh, and a few other elements of the private cars' equal rights campaign include the right to park on sidewalks, belch pollution and blare one's horn at any hour of the day or night.

Taking lanes away from private cars is a positive step. But what Bogotá really needs is a London-style congestion charge to reduce car use and generate funds for mass transit.

Car drivers exercise their equal rights by turning Calle 26 into a parking lot.
Exercising equal rights for cars by blocking
pedestrians from crossing a street.

Comparing road space use by the same number of people in a bus, as pedestrians and in cars.  (Image:  Human Transit
This street vendor implored the people in the car to let him cross the street. They told him to wait in the rain and be patient.

An oppressed vehicle= A car parked on a sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to veer into the street, risking their safety.
El Tiempo's Motor section says the lane change means that cars are paying for TransMilenio's mistakes. But bus riders, pedestrians and cyclists pay every day for cars' impacts on cities.
As this photo from the same El Tiempo article shows, traffic jams are the fault of cars, not of buses.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Unknown said...

It looks like the drivers won. I heard today that they will not take car lanes for the Transmilenio.

It will be interesting to see what ultimately works to reduce traffic here.

Miguel said...

Yes, and it was probably inevitable. I noticed that the newspaper quoted only opponents of the idea.

Petro seems to be retreating from all of his transit initiatives (this one, car sharing, the congestion charge.) All he's done is fiddle with the failed Pico y Placa.

Why can't NYC ex-Mayor Bloomberg or London mayors Boris Johnson or 'Red' Ken Livingston come be mayor of Bogotá?