What California Can Learn from Latin American Bike Advocates
On December 7, 2021, CalBike held its second Advance Symposium for the California Bicycle Summit: Lessons from Latin America. It was a powerful and fascinating deep dive into both success stories and challenges for biking in Latin American cities, with a deep dive into the home of the Cicolvia, Bogotá, Columbia. Scroll to the bottom to watch the full session.
The presenters included the coauthors of the chapter on Latin American in Cycling for Sustainable Cities. Daniel Rodriguez is a professor of city and regional planning and the interim director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley. Carlos Felipe Pardo is a senior advisor to the New Urban Mobility Alliance and also founded Despacio, a Bogota-based sustainable transportation organization. We were also joined by two advocates from BiciActiva, a Bogotá-based organization that sponsors BiciActiva Radio, which runs a station for and by bicyclists. Lorena Romero is the BiciActiva Foundation director and project manager who created the Bicinema project to bring movies to public places in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Raphael Navarro joined us from the Netherlands, where he is reporting on the Dutch cycling experience for BiciActiva Radio.
Ciclovias make cities more bike-friendly
Bogotá is famous in bicycling circles as the home of the first Open Streets, the Ciclovia, founded in 1974, and it has the second-highest bicycle mode share. The highest is in Guadalajara, another city with a robust, weekly Ciclovia—and Rodriguez doesn’t think that’s a coincidence. He presented figures on miles of bike lanes built in recent years and, though Guadalajara has many fewer miles than Bogotá and some other cities, the percentage increase in bikeways in that city has been huge.
Pardo pointed out Bogotá’s long experience with quickly transforming streets for Ciclovias was useful during the pandemic. The city quickly created many miles of temporary bike routes and has begun to make some of those permanent with quick-build infrastructure.
Building community on two wheels
Romero and Navarro spoke about the power of shared information to improve safety and win better bikeways. They invited bike advocates from anywhere in the world to contribute to BiciActiva Radio, which has the mission of sharing information to support the bike riding community. One of Romero’s inspiring recent projects is Bicinema, which projected outdoor movies that people could bike to watch, creating community even during COVID.
These are just a few of the highlights from Lessons from Latin America. Watch the full session to get ideas and inspiration from these fantastic bicycle advocates. But, before you do, register for our next free, online Symposium: California Advocacy Success Stories. The session will be held on February 22, 2022. And don’t forget to reserve your spot for the in-person California Bicycle Summit, held in Oakland April 6-9, 2022.