Saturday, September 27, 2014

The New 'Green' (and Gray) Ave. Septima

Cars occupy Ave. Septima's new 'bus lane.'
Cars compete with buses for space in the bus lane.
Bogotá city governments have often promised to remake Carrera Septima, which is the city's most iconic street, despite its chaos, pollution and daily congestion.

But none of the plans, for a TransMilenio line, light rail or a subway, have materialized. The Petro administration's latest idea, a low-budget plan to add a bus-only lane, is a good one - if the city would only actually implement it. Together with making transport more sustainable, the city also placed 'green' roofs featuring on some of the bus shelters. Unfortunately, the street has few bus shelters.

As far as the bus lane, it's unfortunately business as usual on Ave. Septima's 'bus lane.' City Hall announced this plan a few months ago as part of its new transit policy. And, bus lanes are a quick and cheap way - in principle - to increase road capacity. But on a Friday afternoon near the Parque Nacional and La Javeriana University I saw no sign of police trying to enforce the policy, or of drivers respecting it.

The bus lane also boasts 'green' bus shelters like this one, with living roofs.

Plants grow amongst pebbles on a bus shelter's roof.
La Javeriana University also plans to get in on the act, with this lawn on the roof of one of its new buildings, as in this drawing. 
But many bus stops lack shelters - incomprehensibly in a rainy, chilly city.

And, no matter how green they are painted, not all the buses are actually 'green.' Here, like everywhere, Petro's 'humane' Bogotá does not include breathable air.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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