In the world of sustainable transportation, Bogota is famous for its Ciclovias, so I was really excited to experience 120 kms of roads closed to cars and open to people biking and walking. Having participated in organizing an open streets festival in Ottawa, I was really interested in what an ongoing weekly one would feel like in Bogota.
Derek has never met a mountain that he didn’t love and Colombia is full of stunning mountains.
Just before we started our trip, at our dear friend Beth’s beautiful wedding, we had a chance to catch up with Derek’s highschool badminton partner, Phil, who now teaches at a university in Bogota. With Phil’s enthusiastic recommendation, we decided to extend our stopover in Bogota from a few hours to three weeks. We knew we’d like to experience the Ciclovia and do some mountain hikes and we figured we could plan the rest of the trip when we arrived.
Biking during the Ciclovia was absolutely incredible! We started a few blocks from our hotel where the two express lanes on a highway were open for biking, running, rollerblading, skateboarding, etc. Express buses still used the middle lane and cars and motorbikes used the collectors on either side. This part of the Ciclovia was similar to riding on the closed parkway in Ottawa.
Along this part of the route there were frequent safe, supervised crossings where animators and police officers stopped traffic so people could cross the collector lanes to access the Ciclovia.
There was a lot of space here so more serious road cyclists (like Anna Sierra) who wanted a fast ride could get lots of exercise. Derek and I were still adjusting to the altitude and were riding at more of a strolling pace.
Following the advice of one of our friends at the hotel’s front desk, when we reached Calle Séptima, closer to downtown, we turned off. This area had lots of people selling all kinds of food and treasures in the street as well as performing, playing chess in the street and repairing bikes.
It was so much fun. And very inspiring to see how streets can be so full of life when they are closed to motorized traffic!