Every Sunday for almost 50 years, the City of Bogotá has closed off a continuous network of streets and avenues, banning motorized vehicles so that residents can safely go for a walk or ride a bicycle safely. What began as an activist and community initiative progressively became institutionalized and is now a core measure in the city's public policy with regards to leisure and improving the quality of life. A source of inspiration for the world's largest cities today, how did this event of unprecedented magnitude develop?
Ciclovía began as a large militant demonstration organized in 1974 to protest how cars dominated the public space of the Colombian capital. Becoming gradually more institutionalized, it is now a pillar of the city’s urban policy for leisure and improving the quality of life of the inhabitants. A true local institution, it requires significant organization and logistical support to safely manage the 127 kilometers of lanes dedicated every Sunday to active modes. There is no doubt that this event of unprecedented scale is a hugely popular success.
Jaime Ortiz Mariño, today an architect and consultant on mobility policies, was the instigator of the "Great Pedal Demonstration" (Gran Manifestación del Pedal) organized in 1974 to protest the proliferation of cars in the city. Inspired by the demands of the American youth and counterculture communities, this movement elevated the bicycle as a symbol of resistance, at the heart of an alternative social and environmental project for the city. A few years later, the event became institutionalized, with the city closing off four corridors of traffic, thus forming a safe network of about 20 kilometers. In the 1980’s the event was extended and officially held every Sunday, however a lack of means and political support weakened its development. It was in the 1990s that Ciclovía grew in scope, under the impetus of mayors Antanas Mockus and Enrique Peñalosa who decided to increase its funding tenfold, to open funding to private partners and to strengthen its recreational dimension. By the end of the 1990s, more than 120 kilometers of lanes had been dedicated to active modes, attracting over 1 million inhabitants every week.
Today, Ciclovía is managed and organized by the Department of Leisure and Sports of the Bogotá City Hall, and mobilizes a large number of public actors involved in health, events, youth, but also transport and mobility. The city decided to make the most of this dedicated public space to hold recreational and sports activities (gym, theater ...) in order to attract a wider spectrum of participants and foster social cohesion. The event is also an opportunity to provide information and organize awareness-raising events (civic culture, fight against Covid-19, etc.). It has significant political, financial and administrative support and the 1.4 million euros dedicated every year to its organization allow for the necessary logistics to stage it properly: closing off traffic with barriers and signage, having stewards in charge of supervision, information and security, rolling out activities, etc.
The available data and observations made by research teams allow us to identify the event’s main effects:
To find all the information about the history of this initiative, its actions and its results, download the summary sheet produced by the Mobile Lives Forum.
For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.En savoir plus x
Movement is the crossing of space by people, objects, capital, ideas and other information. It is either oriented, and therefore occurs between an origin and one or more destinations, or it is more akin to the idea of simply wandering, with no real origin or destination.En savoir plus x
A lifestyle is a composition of daily activities and experiences that give sense and meaning to the life of a person or a group in time and space.En savoir plus x
To cite this publication :
Mobile Lives Forum (16 May 2022), « An emblematic model of a car-free day: Bogota’s Ciclovía », Préparer la transition mobilitaire. Consulté le 01 April 2023, URL: https://forumviesmobiles.org/en/project/15582/emblematic-model-car-free-day-bogotas-ciclovia
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