A biking revolution? I wish it were true. In any case, I was surprised by the coincidence of two articles discussing this issue, both of today: Revolución ciclista in El País, and En bicicleta, a diario in Semana.
Beyond the splendor of the situation in cities such as Copenhagen, where bicycling finally seems to have become the main and in many ways the best way of moving around, or even beyond the coincidence of being highly ranked in terms of living standard and using bicycles profusely (Helsinki is number one, followed by Munich, Copenhagen, Zürich, in one of those rankings I take with a grain of salt), what attracted my attention is the situation in much more problematic cities:
“Sin embargo, no es allí donde está la revolución, sino en Barcelona, Nueva York, Bogotá, París, Londres, Lyon, San Francisco, Sevilla, Lima, Berlín, Tokio y cientos de ciudades más que se unen a la ola ciclista pese a no tener una gran tradición” (“however, that’s not where the revolution is happening, but in Barcelona, New York, Bogotá, Paris, London, Lyon, San Francisco, Seville, Lima, Berlin, Tokyo and hundreds of other cities that are joining the cycing wave in spite of not having a long tradition) says Borja Echevarría of El País.
I half concur.
Being myself (very timidly, compared to the brave people, like the guards of our building, who work in Chapinero Alto and go every freezing morning, every evening, from Engativá, from Bosa, to our part of town – 15 km each direction, through the big city) a small part of what’s described in the article, I am completely biased for bicycling.
This last semester, my preferred, my most exhilarating, my most beautiful, way of going to teach at the University, was by bicycle. It usually took me some 20 minutes, from the door of my place to the door of the classroom. By car, with luck, it takes 15 minutes. Without luck, 30 minutes or more. By bus, not less than 30 minutes. By taxi, with the portion of walking from the entrance to the campus, perhaps 25 minutes. So, the bicycle practically beats all other options. And 80 or 90% or the route is actually quite beautiful and quiet – just a couple of very dense avenues with traffic jams, but I manage to avoid them almost completely.
I felt a better connection to my students when I arrived (like so many of them) with my helmet to the classroom, with my heart pumping a little faster from exertion. I believe (I may be completely wrong here) that my classes were better those days.
I wish Bogotá (now that we’ll have a new mayor and will have the right to hope to breathe again as a city, after years of urban disaster) will understand what’s at play here.