Bogotá motorcyclists protest district’s new security measures

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Alcaldía de Bogotá

Thousands of motorcyclists invaded the streets of the Colombian capital on Monday in protest over new security measures announced by Mayor Claudia López in the aftermath of the bombing of a police command post that claimed the lives of two minors and injured 10 civilians. The attack in which a motorcyclist and rider allegedly hurled an explosive device at the CAI promoted López to restrict the movement of all pillion passengers (known in Spanish as parrilleros) on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00pm to 4:00am.

The security measure goes into effect on April 14 and mandates that all motorcyclists must print their license plate numbers in bold letters and numbers on helmets in order for police surveillance cameras to identify those implicated in crimes.

The protest on Monday by bikers who blocked major intersections along AutoNorte, NQS, Las Américas, Avenida Caracas, Calle 26, Calle 63 and Calle 100, brought Bogotá rush hour traffic to a standstill and disrupted the capital’s mass transportation system TransMilenio. The suspension of routes along TM’s bus-only corridors results in long delays for commuters with many workers opting to walk long distances to reach their homes.

Another protest has been summoned for Wednesday, starting noon, near the Virgilio Barco public library at the intersection of Calle 63 with Cra 50.

Mayor López’s resolve with the heightened security measures appeared not to buckle on Monday, stating on Twitter that “everyone must do their part to protect the city from crime and terrorism. All we ask is visible identification and not to have pillion riders three days a week.”  After a security meeting with Bogotá’s chief of police, General Jorge Eliécer Camacho, Mayor López stated emphatically that “hitmen don’t murder people from bicycles or scooters.”

The motorcycle restriction is one of 10 measures to shield the capital over the next two months from attacks by illegal armed groups as the country faces a presidential election on May 29, and possible run-off vote, on June 19.