|NQS avenue this afternoon.|
|The same stretch of the NQS Avenue on a normal day.|
|Palo Quemao's Market's empty parking lot.|
That seemed to be the case today, during Mayor Petro's new, extra Car-Free Day, when much of the city seemed somewhat ghostly.
Don't get me wrong: I believe that cars are a scourge on cities and the planet, and I wish that every city was car-free every single day. However, Bogotá's car-free days seem mostly to generate resentment against such top-down sustainable transit measures, while changing the behavior of few people.
Petro has proposed creating monthly Car-Free Days. That will only add an additional day off or work-at-home day for many people. Better, but even less politically possible, would be to create a Car-Free Week, which would obligate drivers to find a more sustainable way to get around.
At this point, I can't help recalling an anecdote from the time car-choked Caracas, Venezuela
|A normal, grid-locked day in La Candelaria.|
I knew a woman there who normally drove alone in her car from the city's outskirts to her office job in central Caracas, a miserable three-hour ordeal off traffic jams. During the petroleum strike she could not get gasoline and was forced - god forbid - to take the bus - and three separate buses, in fact. But despite that multi-bus odyssey, with the roads clear, my acquaintance got to work faster by bus than she had driving her car.
I'm sure that many people had similar experiences. Nevertheless, once the oil started flowing again, the immense traffic jams returned.
Should Bogotá shut down its gas stations? It could be a good thing, but not likely. Better for the city to triple the price of gasoline, or do what Petro said he would upon being elected: Create a London-style congestion charge.
That could really reduce the driving habit.
According to El Tiempo, bicycle - or, bike parking lot - use rose 9.2%, SITP bus use rose 19% and pollution dropped 15%.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours