Bogotá’s No Car Day comes with air quality alert


On Thursday, as millions in Bogotá walked, peddled and scooted their way across the city with the first No Car Day of 2020, Mayor Claudia López later in the day decreed a “yellow alert” in several localities (Kennedy, Bosa, Fontibon, Puente Aranda and Ciudad Bolívar) given thick smog over the capital.

According to the district’s Environment Secretariat Carolina Urrutia, as of Tuesday, the air quality index registered particle matter at PM 2.5, above accepted health standards for the city. Last year, on February 15, former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa was also forced to issue a “yellow alert” when the particle density reached the same number. Unseasonably low temperatures in the morning – as low as minus 4 degrees Celcius – across the Savannah de Bogotá, hot days, and no precipitation are contributing to the smog density.

Even though Bogotanos did their part Thursday to off-set carbon emissions, the impact of the No Day Car in reducing high pollution levels is marginal,  given that close to 40% of the contaminants are released by industry, and 18% by heavy transport vehicles. And even though Bogotá was been spared in January forest fires in the Cerros Orientales given a heavy bout of rainfall, the recent dry spell has placed authorities on alert.

With measures in place by the Mayoralty to guarantee mobility during an extended No Car Day and which ended 9:00 pm, the city’s articulated bus system TransMilenio moved 1.5 million passengers, above the daily average of 1.3 million. The city’s SITP (blue buses) fleet moved 1.3 million, and a 25% increase over the daily average. TransMiCable also saw higher numbers of commuters (15,400) compared with an average of 12,400.

Mayor Claudia López participated in Día Sin Carro, riding to work on her bicycle and riding TransMilenio where she highlighted the day’s many accomplishments, including a 51% reduction in traffic accidents. The Mayorality has announced a second No Car Day on September 22, 2020.


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