gill moore photography

Two cycle schemes trying to make a difference: “Ciclovia” in Bogota and the “Velib” in Paris.

Well, it seems cycling has been deemed newsworthy in the UK at last. Naughty David Cameron has been found running a red light and going the wrong way down a one-way street on his bike. Something I would never do of course.
In an effort to balance out this negative press I urge you to take a look at this link: www.streetfilms.org/archives/lessons-from-bogota/ or click on the youTube image below.
It features a short film made all about an amazing scheme called “ciclovia” in Bogota where the usually car-laden streets are given over to pedestrians and cyclists every Sunday. It has been a massive success and shows how an area can be transformed if designers put community needs at the heart of things.
The film was made by a non-profit group aiming to reclaim New York back for its people. They want to improve the quality of life and make the streets safer for all New Yorkers; pedestrians and bicycles, skaters, rollerbladers, in fact any non-vehicular modes of transport. Via their website they provide evidence to back their case and a platform for discussion and dialogue on the issue: www.streetfilms.org.
Most people do agree that we must find alternatives to the car. Ideally, we want easy, cheap, practical and acceptable modes of transport. The rise of cycling in London has been dramatic since 2000 with a reported 83% increase in journey’s by bike. It shows the desire is there to use pedal power but conditions need to be right to make it happen and attitudes need to change.
In August last year Paris introduced a scheme called “Velib”, 20,000 bikes were dotted around 750 sites within the city centre for anyone to hire. One must purchase either a subscription (£20 for unlimited use all year) or pay per trip when the first half hour is free and then the cost is roughly a euro an hour. The system operates with either a pre-validated swipe card or the users credit card which then allows quick release of any bike from the bike’s locked collection points. Bikes do not have to be returned to the same spot.
velib.jpg
Use of the “Velib” has been high, with 1.6 million trips in the first month each bike being used roughly 30 times each day and that is despite many technical glitches suffered at the scheme’s start. The bikes also carry advertising space to subside some of the scheme’s costs. Using the bike as a portable marketing tool has encouraged advertisers to introduce schemes to Seville, Cordoba, Brussels and Vienna and is probably the most likely way a large scale scheme similar to the Parisian one may be brought to the UK.
Suprisingly, many of the Velib users are switchers from public transport rather than car-ditchers, so not quite the anticipated effect the French mayor had hoped for. However, it is still early days and has possibly started a slow sea change in opinion; the acceptance of the bike as a popular, even trendy, method of getting from A to B in a cosmopolitan and busy city. Could the UK be next to follow?

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