What can we learn from Colombia's urban mobility?
New bike path in Bogotá, Colombia. Photo: Shutterstock

What can we learn from Colombia's urban mobility?

A new concept of urban mobility is getting popular: the "15-minute cities", in which people can meet all their needs in a 15-minute commute. In this respect, the Colombian capital Bogotá is far ahead of other large Latin American cities

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The pandemic has driven some practices that were already being thought about but never really implemented, such as the work-from-home or hybrid work model, as well as new habits, such as commuting. As a result, the public authorities of several cities around the world started to give more attention to urban planning, especially to mobility. During 2020 we saw news reports about pollution reductions due to social isolation and greater use of bicycles, which contributes to the social distancing and yet is sustainable, economical, and efficient.

For these reasons, a new concept of urban mobility is getting popular: the “15-minute cities“, in which people can meet all their needs in a 15-minute commute. And here I focus on active mobility only because, in order to build smart, sustainable – and 15-minute – cities, you also have to look at urban replanning. Electric cars, for example, take up the same space as combustion-powered vehicles. Traffic jams, lack of cycling infrastructure, and little space for coexistence will continue.

READ ALSO: iFood and Tembici expand program of electric bikes exclusive for delivery workers

With about 7.3 million people, Bogotá has been making progress in this area since 1998, when it launched the so-called TransMilenio. Inspired by Curitiba’s Integrated Transport Network, the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is already considered one of the best in the world, and part of its ticket price is funded by the government for low-income people. The city’s transport system includes smaller vehicles that make routes to neighborhoods where the BRT does not reach. This is the case with the TransMiCable, a streetcar for approximately eight people. The modal integrates hilly neighborhoods and helps users save time. It is possible to cross the capital in less than an hour, while using a car triples the time.

The Colombian capital is a reference in terms of active mobility. Its first bicycle path is almost 50 years old. And with the pandemic, the city has taken the opportunity to encourage the use of the bicycle. Bogotá has stood out for its modal integration, with the installation of bike racks in bus and subway terminals and dozens of kilometers of temporary bike lanes to promote cycling during the pandemic. The city currently has more than 550 kilometers of cycling infrastructure, about 25% more than Rio de Janeiro, for example, which is a city where the bicycle is widely used.

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It is worth mentioning that, in the coming months, Tembici will implement its system in Bogota, which will be the first city in which the project is already starting with 3,300 bicycles, 50% conventional bikes and 50% electric bikes. Thus, the Colombian capital takes another step forward as a smart city, since electric mobility is being discussed globally as an innovative future of urban travel and CO2 emissions reduction on the planet.

Moreover, one of our innovation pillars for this debut is related to the last-mile delivery. This, in fact, is a global trend that is becoming increasingly popular, and here it is no different: since last year, we saw that the search for our bikes for this end grew 10 times more compared to March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic.

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Large cities are developing with growing demands for more democratic and efficient ways for people to get around that do not have a negative impact on the environment. We are optimistic not only with the arrival in Bogotá, which is a great bet but also with the global trend that has grown stronger, especially in Brazil, in terms of sustainable mobility.