Bogotá’s Alcalde Mayor Gustavo Petro’s “Green” Thinking


Corn Poppies growing near the pink barrio

Corn Poppies growing near the pink barrio

05.08.12 Hola. Bogotá Colombia has a traffic congestion problem and it’s only going to get worse if Bogotanos don’t make some behavioural changes in their lives. The Colombian capital’s mass transit system, the TransMilenio, is full to capacity, and Bogotá is working to expand the TransMilenio system, which is a system of red articulated buses—I think they are very pretty—with their own dedicated lanes on the city’s streets. The TransMilenio system is set up so that it works similar to an above-ground metro/subway system. From my understanding, the TransMilenio is a privately owned company and that’s been part of the problem, in that la empresa/the company is not very responsive to the public they are supposed to be serving and as a result there have been some protests of the TransMilenio system, such as la protesta de los estudiantes (the students’ protest) this past Marzo 2012/March 2012. Here’s the video from Noticias Caracol Televisión in Bogotá:

Protestas a Transmilenio – Marzo 9/2012 (the 9th of March 2012)

In addition to the Transmilenio, there are plans in Bogotá for a very modern metro system, but that’s not going to be built anytime soon it seems, in part, due to a lack of dinero/money.

Bogotá’s Alcalde Mayor Gustavo Petro made a very forward-thinking statement recently on RCN Radio where he listed the modes of travel in Bogotá by their priority:

First priority: pedestrians
Second priority: cyclists
Third priority: TransMilenio
Fourth priority: public transport/private car

Pedestrians and cyclists first? Followed by the TransMilenio? Caramba! (Wow!) Can you image any major city mayor in the Estados Unidos ever proposing such “green” thinking? That would not happen, even from mayor’s in major cities that pretend to be “progressive.” The Estados Unidos is a very vehicle-priority/obsessed country with many people holding to that insecure way of thinking called, “keeping up with the Joneses.” In some U.S. cities, many people think they absolutely must have a SUV. Why does one need a SUV and giant vehicles in a city? Then they complain about how difficult it is to park. Why didn’t they think about that before they bought the thing? Some cities in the U.S. claim to be “transit-first” cities, but that’s often just pretty “green-washing” rhetoric. The reality is otherwise. Many, if not most, city officials don’t take mass transit but rather drive their SUV and park in front of City Hall in their designated parking slot. Of course they will urge others to take public transit, but they’re not about to themselves.

Bogotá is also a very pro-cyclist city (not that there aren’t some Bogotanos who can’t stand cyclist just as in any other city around the world). These days, the hate for cyclists is especially strong in the Estados Unidos, particularly on the East and West Coasts. Bogotá has its Ciclovía every Domingo/Sunday where city streets are closed off to vehicles and opened to cyclists and pedestrians for a fiesta/party.

So I was very pleased to hear that Alcalde Mayor Petro has stated publicly that private motor vehicles should be the last priority for a mode of travel for Bogotanos. Will they listen to Alcalde Mayor Petro and walk, ride a bicycle, take the TransMilenio, or will they remain with the status quo and stay in their vehicles? Ciao.—rosa barrio

Related:

Pictures of the TransMilenio here and here

Bogotá – Latin America’s biking paradise

Ciclovía

Now, join me for some tea, but first, what cup do you want? It will be difficult to decide:

These are mugs from DeanJohnsonFineArt: