Search for Clean Transportation Alternatives to Coincide with "Car Free
Day" in Bogotá, Colombia
28 January The idea of banning cars on a work day in downtown
Bogotá, Colombia, was a novelty-an experiment-on Thursday ,24 February
2000. But it worked. Taking to trains, buses, taxis and bicycles, people took
alternative transportation to work that day and the city did not shut down. The
normally traffic-choked streets turned into pedestrian malls, and what's more,
the people in Bogotá like it. So much so, that they decided to make
"Car-Free Day" an annual event.
When then Bogotá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa first proposed the event,
the idea met with considerable resistance. Yet afterwards, a referendum to make
"Car-Free Day" an annual event passed by a decisive margin. This
year, Bogotá, along with no fewer than seven other Colombian cities, is
joining in going "car-free" on 7 February. All told, about 14 million
people will live without a car that day.
It's not a question of banning automobiles altogether, at this point, but to
help people envision a city of the future, if only for a day, where viable mass
transit and non-polluting vehicles take prominence. For Bogotá, the
experiment has helped the city emerge as a model for transport and democracy
for cities around the world.
The idea of car-free days is not new, as events have been held in several
European cities. However, these days have tended to be small, ad hoc affairs,
that have taken place on weekends.
The issue of sustainable transportation is a major issue for the World Summit
on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26
August to 4 September. To promote discussion on possible solutions to current
transportation problems, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social
Affairs is sponsoring a meeting of mayors on the issue that will be hosted by
Bogotá. Starting on 6 February, the three-day meeting will serve as a
forum to discuss obstacles to creating more efficient and equitable transport
systems, as well to discuss solutions. The middle day of the meeting will be
devoted to observing Car Free Day in Bogotá.
The other Colombian cities holding a "Car Free Day" this year include
Ibague, Manizales, Neiva, Palmira, Pasto, Valledupar and Villavicencio.
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006