By Michal Szymkat, Crowdfunding Advisor, Bogbi
My first impressions of Bogotá were overwhelming. It’s a sprawling city with over 8 million inhabitants. The weather can be surprisingly brisk, and the primary means of public transport – the Transmilenio – is not exactly first choice for rush hour travel. It’s crowded, loud and uncomfortable. Throw in sluggish traffic jams and exhaust fumes and you get the idea. But give this city another chance and it will surprise you.
The second face of Bogotá – The Latin American Capital of Bicycles
I was lucky to escape the commute-by-public-transport trap quickly. I started working with Bogbi, a company producing innovative cargo bikes and discovered an alternative for moving around which is fun, eco-friendly and healthy.
Bogotá has a network of over 390 km cycle paths and the city’s cycling culture is impressive. Over 84,000 people use Bogota’s cycle route network every day, saving money and reducing their environmental footprint along the way.
But that’s not all. The true phenomenon happens on Sundays, when cars are literally banned from a large part of the city’s streets. A grand total of 480km kilometers of roadway is exclusively reserved for cyclists, skaters, joggers and anything else that doesn’t burn fuel. The city looks truly utopic on those days; from 7am to 2pm it’s quiet, peaceful and futuristic.
Hopefully this trend starts catching up in other cities all over the world.
Quo vadis Bogotá?
Even though the Ciclovias (spanish for ‘bike paths’) movement is impressive, there is still a lot to be done in Bogotá. There is no clear model of what the city is betting on. In his article, ‘Three Mobility Challenges facing Bogota, Joe Peach wonders, “Could Bogotá be a city where pedestrians have priority (like in Barcelona), or a city where cyclists have priority (like in Copenhagen), or a city where public transport is most important (like in Paris), or a city dominated by car transport (like in Atlanta)?”
From what I have experienced I would like to see Bogotá getting closer to Copenhagen, but with this direction, more responsible decisions have to come from above. An educational strategy explaining the rights of cyclists, should be implemented. Besides that, more of the cycling paths shall be created on the asphalt roads occupied by cars, not on the pedestrian paths. Furthermore, exploring citizen solutions such as Bogbi should be encouraged.
Meet Bogbi- the next generation of dreamers and inventors
A surf buddy who I met in Lisbon, Johannes Hegdahl got me out of that public transport trap. He’s a recent graduate of The Oslo School of Architecture and Design, and industrial designer who arrived in Bogotá to help two fathers, a Norwegian named Sigur Kihl and Eduardo Moreno the Colombian, to solve their mobility problems.
Together they set about designing a cargo bicycle that would get their children to kindergarten safely, sustainably and while having fun. That was the beginning of the Bogbi story, the Colombian/Norwegian family cargo bikes.
Over time, the trio realised that more and more people across the world searched for a solution that offered safe, sustainable and family-friendly transport. The startup idea was born.
The alternatives for clean mobility are always available, sometimes we just need to be shown the right way to do things. Cycling has been one of the alternatives for a long time, and the cargo bike design born in Bogotá allows the whole family to have fun on two wheels. Plus, it helps to educate the youngest of us about mobility issues and their solutions.
Initiatives such as Ciclovia and Bogbi will certainly pave the way for more sustainable micro-mobility solutions and help Bogotá better navigate its mobility maze.
While you check out Bogbi on Indiegogo , feel free to watch their video, showing not only the bike but also the impressive cycling infrastructure in Bogotá.
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