Bogota – a model for the rest of us

When we think of great cities, we usually think of London, Paris, Tokyo, and New York City.  These cities are usually European, Asian, or North American.  Bogota, Colombia isn’t a city that gets much coverage.  Well, many years ago, it did get coverage for having one of the worst murder rates in the world.  Well, the city is famous now for other reasons.

CicloRuta and Ciclovia

Bogota has one of the most extensive networks of bicycle routes.  These are not just leisure routes; these are routes that can get you across town.  If going across town is too much, then a lot of the bicycle routes feed into the TransMilenio Bus Rapid Transit system.  Unlike many bicycle routes in North America, most of these bicycle routes are entirely separated from car traffic.  Bogota also has a weekly event called Ciclovia.  Ciclovia is like a carfree day where 100s of kms of roadway in the city are shut down and people take over the streets on foot and on bike.  Streetfilms has a great video about the Ciclovia.


TransMilenio is Bogota’s extensive bus rapid transit system.  It has been featured before on a post about Bus Rapid Transit.  The system has 8 lines that covers 84 kms.  The system uses double-articulated buses, which looks like a Vancouver B-Line with an extra section in the back.  One of the key features of the system is that each station has two lanes beside it.  So if there is a bus in the station and an express bus is passing through, the express bus can just go past the station without stopping.  Plus, as far as I know, the system is segregrated from car traffic in special bus-only lanes (similar to what Richmond had down No. 3 Road before the Canada Line).  The TransMilenio has been a cost-effective way of moving people around Bogota for about 10% the cost of a metro system covering the same ground.  One of the drawbacks, however, has been overcrowding in the buses and stations.

TransMilenio Map

In general, North Americans don’t think much about South America, but maybe it’s time to change that.  Bogota has shown the political will and vision to move a city in a totally different direction.


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