- EVENT Velo-City 2018
- LOCATION Rio de Janeiro
- DATE June 12-15
Cycling has a long history in Colombia: its professional athletes have been successful in cycling competitions across the world for decades, and increasingly its cities are leading in the planning and implementation of cycling infrastructure. Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, first held its ciclovía, a weekly closure of main avenues to all but pedestrians and cyclists, in 1974, and is considered the cycling capital of Latin America. It now aims to become the world’s cycling capital, through a focus on institutions, new and improved infrastructure, culture, safety, the environment, and projects such as the Quinto Centenario cycle avenue. Bogotá is also one of 19 Colombian cities who are part of the country’s NAMA TANDEM (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action for Active Transport and Travel Demand Management), which aims to increase the modal share of cycling by 9% in all cities.
It followed that Bogotá and Colombian cities in general played an active role at the latest Velo-City; the world's foremost conference on cycling organised every year by the European Cyclists’ Federation. Hosted by Rio de Janeiro between June 12-15, the 2018 edition represented the first time that Velo-City has ever been held in Latin America. Thus, it was an opportunity to share best practices from the continent, and offer a broader perspective of how cities are implementing cycling infrastructure, beyond the traditional Eurocentric focus.
A special session on Friday, June 15th, titled ‘How cities in Colombia are stepping up a gear in promoting cycling infrastructure’, aimed to show how municipal governments in Colombia, with the support of the Colombian national government and international organisations, are promoting sustainable mobility - particularly cycling. Officials from Cali, Bogotá, and the Valle de Aburrá Metropolitan Area – which includes Medellín – presented on their cities’ ambitious plans to develop infrastructure for cyclists and reverse the growth of private vehicles. Other cities, such as Pereira and Ibagué, have been helped by the World Resources Institute to structure their plans going forward, while GIZ, through its TRANSfer project and the C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) , supported the development of the NAMA TANDEM.
David Uniman, Bogotá’s Bicycle Manager, also spoke on Tuesday, June 12th, in the ‘Stuck in Traffic’ session. Congestion is an everyday occurrence for most people travelling in Bogotá: through a comprehensive infrastructure programme including cycle lanes, parking spaces, intermodal facilities, and a world-leading entrepreneurship centre, the city aims to double the mode share of cycling to 10% by 2020 and reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads. Jeroen Buis, a consultant working with Bogotá on the Quinto Centenario project, presented the 25-km cycle avenue and its objective to demonstrate what mobility in the city will look like in the near future in the ‘Inclusive Infrastructure’ session.
Bogotá also had the opportunity to exchange best practices and lessons learned with the city of Rio de Janeiro. The workshop, organised by the CFF, was developed around topics selected by the cities themselves. The two cities have a similar population, but despite a comparable amount of cycle lanes, Bogotá’ has nearly twice the mode share. Rio de Janeiro presented on the history of its bike-sharing system, now operated by Tembici, and on its famous cargo bikes in Copacabana. Bogotá, on the other hand, illustrated its activities to improve road safety for cyclists, particularly with respect to their interaction with buses, and on its efforts to engage stakeholders such as cycling groups (‘colectivos’).