Bicycles are beginning to make a comeback in many major metropolitan areas, but in Columbia’s capital Bogota, efforts to reduce carbon emissions began in 2000.
Mayor Enrique Peñalosa’s “Mejor en Bici” (better on bike) initiative doesn’t allow cars on any main streets or other major neighborhoods on Sundays and public holidays between 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the India Times. This program has inspired other cities like Surat, India to consider implementing their own car-free days.
“All our team members took bicycles on rent [during our tour to Bogota] and pedaled our way to important parts of the city,” Rajesh Desai, Chairman of the Standing Committee, told the source. “Even Surat could go the Bogota way where we can have a car-free day in a week or a month.”
However, Bogota decided to take their green recycling efforts a little further and implemented a car-free week between February 6 through 13, the City Fix reported. During this time, 233 miles of bike paths were available to residents for the entire week, reducing emissions and traffic throughout the city.
“This project is aimed at people who do not use the bike regularly,” Mejor en Bici member Andres Vergara told the City Fix. “Hopefully with this experience they will turn into frequent cyclists.”
Mayor Peñalosa doesn’t have the details on how the car-free week impacted Bogota’s air quality, but what is readily available is the impacts the weekly car-free days do have on residents: 570 less car collision related deaths and nearly one less day spent in traffic, 22 hours to be exact. Bogota hopes that their experimentation with reducing car usage will continue to gain traction in major cities.
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