Cyclists take over the streets of Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia is the second most populous city in South America and one of the highest capitals in the world at a lofty 2625m above sea level.

From Monday to Friday it is not unusual to hear ‘Bogotanos’ complaining about heavy traffic, pot-holed roads and an overburdened public transport network. However each Sunday and most public holidays you can hear a different tune as locals and tourists enjoy Ciclovia.

During Ciclovia the main streets of Bogotá (and other regional centres around the country) are closed between 7am and 2pm for the exclusive use of runners, skaters and most notably cyclists. Locals can safely use the ordinarily choked calles and carreras at their leisure, with the whole family getting involved – even the pet dog! Furthermore, entertainment stages are set up in public places with aerobics instructors, yoga teachers and musicians leading people through various activities. The community spirit is something to behold.

Having witnessed the success of Ciclovia around Colombia, many other countries have tried to emulate the model to varying degrees, including Melbourne where two events have been held in recent years. Wikipedia provides a good account of other variations of the initiative from around the globe.

Ciclovia started in Bogotá over thirty years ago responding to the congestion and pollution of city streets, and today it is enjoyed by approximately 2 million locals on over 120 km of car-free streets.  The following short documentary on Bogota’s Ciclovia filmed by American Clarence Eckerson Jr. shows how truly remarkable this weekly event is.

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