Sustainable Cities™

Bogotá: More bikes and buses, fewer cars

Bogotá, Colombia, aims to establish a more sustainable transport system by creating a network of bike paths covering most of the city. They are upgrading the bus system and restricting cars in the city. The first move towards the increased sustainable transport system was taken by then Bogota Mayor Enrique Peñalosa back in 1998.

Bogota City, Transmilenio transitknudepunkt, 25. maj 2008, Af S2RD2, Flickr, Creative Commons

In Bogotá more than 300 km of bicycle lanes, stretching from the slum areas and suburbs into the capital centre been, have been built. The bicycle lanes are an ongoing project under concurrent development. Since the construction of the lanes, bicycle use has increased by 5 times in the city. It is estimated that there are between 300,000 and 400,000 trips made daily in Bogotá by bicycle. A large portion of these rides are in the southern, poorer areas.

The bike network has a hierarchy determined by the following criteria. The main network connects the main centers of the city in a direct and expeditious manner, for instance connecting the main work and education centers with the most populated residential areas. The secondary network connects housing centers, attraction centers and parks with the main network. The complementary network links provides continuity to the network. It includes a recreational network, local networks and a system of long green areas.

Cycling day, Bogotá, 12 Nov 2005, MacAllenBrothers, Flickr, Creative Commons

The public transport system of Bogotá has also been improved. There is no metro in the city, but instead TransMilenio, an affordable and rapid bus transit system, has been implemented. TransMilenio includes numerous elevated stations in the center of a main avenue. Users pay at the station by smartcard and await the arrival of the bus, whose doors open at the same time as the sliding glass doors of the station. The buses have dedicated lanes and on the station extra lanes allows express buses to pass through without stopping.  In early 2006 commuters completed 1,050,000 trips a day. Because of restriction on private cars in the inner city during rush hour, the TransMilenio buses are running three times as fast as a typical New York bus, which equals 28 km an hour.

In Bogotá vehicle traffic is reduced by 40% through a measure that restricts vehicles, according to the last number in their license plate, from travelling during peak hours in the entire urban area. In addition car free Sundays (Ciclovia) and the laying down of thousands of parking spots have made the roads more pedestrian-friendly. On car free Sundays the city is now using public streets as a large open park and there are plenty free exercises for families to attend. Bogota has become a healthier and safer city with greater social integration and cheap, sustainable transport. 

"We need to see public transport not as a technical means of transporting people from point A to B, but as a form of social justice."
Richard Burdett, Professor of Architecture and Urbanism, London Sschool of Economics (2007)

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014