News / Americas

Colombia's Bike Paths Spawn Sunday Ritual

Multimedia

Every Sunday, more than a million people in Bogota join what has become a weekly ritual: congregating on the city's main roads temporarily turned into a network of bike paths known as the "Ciclovia".  In a city of seven million people, Sunday mornings are not for cars, they are for exercise.  More than 120 kilometers of highways are closed. In many locations, there are free aerobics, yoga and exercise classes.  This 36-year success is now being copied in several large cities around the world.



Just imagine.  Every Sunday morning, in a large metropolis, 120 kilometers of roads are closed.  

Welcome to the beloved "ciclovia" as it's known in Bogota.

It's a network of paths created 36 years ago out of main roads and handed over to Bogota's residents, no motor vehicles, once a week.

On holidays too, these roads belong to bikers, walkers, skaters and baby carriers… anything that moves with human energy.  That includes kids learning to skate, bike and even jog.

"The bike path is the largest space in the country for physical activity.  It is more than 120 kilometers where people can express themselves as they wish," said Ana Edurme Camacho, director of the Recreation and Sports Institute in Bogota and the person in charge of the ciclovia.  

Enrique Penalosa is an international consultant on urban strategies. He's a former mayor of Bogota and is still considered one of the city's most innovative mayors. He expanded the bike path during his tenure 10 years ago.

"The ciclovia is a ceremony; it's a ritual where humans recover the city for themselves. And for a while it makes us remember that humans are more important than cars," he said.

Today, about 400 fruit stands work the roads, and 35 outdoor exercise centers have popped up along the paths.

While displays of extreme sports attract large audiences, some people take advantage of the friendly environment to promote causes.  

According to former mayor Penalosa, the ciclovia has benefits beyond fresh air and exercise.  It helps bridge the social and economic divide among Bogota's residents.     

"In these cities of the developing world where the large majority of the population does not have a car, taking a bit of spaces from the cars is a policy of fairness, is to build equality and social justice," Penalosa said.

The ciclovia is also fun for pets.  And in case your bike runs aground, there is a licensed mechanic every few kilometers.  

The ciclovia led to other projects in the city such as the night-time ciclovia at Christmas time and hundreds of kilometers of permanent bike routes, known as "ciclorutas".  

Penalosa who plans to run for mayor again next year, takes credit for them. "We moved from zero to 300,000 people who go to work by bike in Bogota, that's five percent of the population," he said.   

The ciclovia has been replicated in other Colombian cities and has been studied and copied by cities around the world.  

Ana Camacho says a recent study links the ciclovia to a reduction in hospital visits. "If the city dosen't close the roads on Sundays the people would take over the streets," she said.  

No chance of that.  Going on 40, the ciclovia remains a major achievement for Bogota and Colombia.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Congress Aims to Keep Bans on Dealing with Cuban Military

Proposed legislation would ban Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with the Cuban military or the Cuban Ministry of the Interior
More

Video Rapprochement Opens New, Uncertain Chapter in US-Cuba Relations

Change is result of months of secret negotiations that culminated in December with decision to resume ties, but critics say nothing has changed in Cuba’s human rights record
More

Pirates and Hold-ups: Crime Strikes Venezuela's Oil Industry

National crime pandemic is a growing headache for the oil industry, which accounts for nearly all of the country's export revenues
More

US Defense Secretary: 'No Anticipation' of Giving Up Base in Cuba

Havana says normalization of relations will require surrendering base US has leased since 1903
More

Mexico Supreme Court Judge Urges States to Legalize Gay Marriage

Court ruled in decision published on June 19 that laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman were unconstitutional
More

Global Chatter Greets US-Cuba Announcement

Reactions range from move ‘incentivizing a police state’ and ‘caving to Castro’ on the one hand, to ‘necessary step’ and ‘new era of possibility’ on the other
More