Bogotá hosts Sustainable Mobility Week, No Car Day included.

Mayor Claudia López shows a grid of Bogotá's mobility corridors. Photo: Alcaldía de Bogotá

Mayor Claudia López launched on Monday, Sustainable Mobility Week, and showcase with leading international experts of the public works in progress to connect multi-modal transportation within Bogotá and greater Bogotá region. This five-day event that coincides with No Car Day on February 2 is being attended by New York City’s former Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn; Niels Van Oort, Co-Director of the Netherlands Smart Public Transport Laboratory; Michael Kimmelman, writer on public housing, public space, landscape architecture, community development; Timothy Papandreou, founder of Emerging Transport Advisors; Melissa Bruntlett, a speaker and writer who focuses on accessible mobility and sustainable cities; Robin Chase, international mobility expert and American transportation entrepreneur, among others.

The 10 international experts have been invited to see for themselves how Bogotá’s mobility infrastructure is transitioning to zero-carbon emissions with more electric buses within the articulated TransMilenio network and first line of the Bogotá Metro that will incorporate solar energy to power escalators and indoor lighting.  The capital’s multi-modal transportation grid also includes one cablecar line of TransMiCable with three more planned to be operational by 2028.

Mayor López highlighted the importance of the Bogotá region overland commuter train Regiotram and converting the Carrera Séptima between Calles 32 and 94 into a Green Corridor. This project is among the most contentious given that many residents who will be directly impacted have not been consulted by the administration as to full scope of public works project.

As protestors against the “Green Corridor” gathered outside the auditorium where the launch of Sustainable Mobility Week was taking place, Mayor López sent a direct message to the national government of Gustavo Petro, stating “that the best Metro is one that gets built,” and “as long as I am Mayor, construction of the Metro will continue.” López called on Petro is finance the third line of the country’s largest public works project instead of proposing changes to the original plans of the overground Metro. “Bogota’s priority is to co-finance three new cables of TransMiCable and the Regiotram del Norte. Not change the contract for the First Line of the Metro which is advancing at 18%.”

The Mayor reminded the audience that former President Juan Manuel Santos financed the first line of the Metro, and former president Iván Duque co-financed the second. As part of the connectivity plans for pedestrians and bicycle users, Bogotá will add another 100 kms of designated bike lanes to an existing 600 kms. The city’s bike paths move an estimated 880,000 users daily, more than the entire population of Copenhagen.

On the same day, however, that Mayor López was hosting experts in sustainable mobility, a draft of legislation leaked to the media that proposes an all-out ban by the national government on ride-sharing and use of ride-sharing apps. Drivers affiliated to Cabify, Uber, Didi, Beat and other digital platforms took to the streets and began blocking key intersections in the city.  Mayor López quickly responded to the proposed legislation, stating that “Bogotá cannot resist blockades everytime the government makes an announcement.” The legislation would fine users of riding-sharing apps up to $10 Million pesos (US$2,600).

Minister of Transport Guillermo Reyes offered to sit down with the companies that operate through apps, to defuse a situation that could generate widespread traffic gridlock during a week in which Bogotá is a global showcase in sustainable mobility. With more than 600 public works in progress and city in which 5.1 million move  everyday, Mayor López posted on Twitter her thoughts regarding the prohibitive legislation to mobility. “The advance of science and technology is unstoppable. Instead of banning ride-sharing Apps, there should be tighter regulation.”