Our initiative, “From 4 to 2”, looks forward to promoting the use of sustainable mobility in our community, especially the use of the bicycle as an efficient and viable mean of transportation.
“A million cyclists taking over the busiest, biggest, and most important streets of a notoriously traffic-snarled metropolis? No big deal—it happens every week in Bogotá, Colombia”. Mark Jenkins 2015
Bogotá, as most of the world's cities, is affected daily by various mobility issues; mainly traffic, motorcycle accidents, lack of planning and infrastructure, a basic public transportation system and furthermore, a lack of civic culture. In casual conversations you can easily notice a collective frustration and dissatisfaction with how mobility issues affect the quality of life of the citizens in Bogotá.
When we heard about this invitation the first thing that caught our attention was the topic of sustainable mobility, taking into account that our students are really concerned with environmental issues at a local and national level. So we set out, a team of teachers and students inspired and worried about better commuting conditions and eco-friendly mobility practices; we acknowledged that one of the main conclusions of our exploration related to the exponential increase of CO2 emissions in the city.
First, two meetings were held to brainstorm the main mobility issues affecting our community, and we immediately got engaged with the topic of sustainable mobility and the use of the bicycle as a means of transportation to get to school (a student can easily spend more than two hours per day on a school bus). Various members of our school community (including teachers and students, among others) find the bicycle to be their favorite means of transportation. The research process included the design and application of some questioners for the bike users in our community in order to find out the advantages and disadvantages of commuting by bike. Another research strategy was to record the route that those who opt for a bike need to take.
These initial strategies allowed us to identify various elements affecting and favouring bike users. Even though Bogota is a pioneering city when it comes to the implementation of cycling routes, some of these paths need maintenance and continuity; some tracks end abruptly, leaving no option to the cyclist but to take the traffic lane and exposing themselves. Security issues, especially theft, were another main concern expressed. When focusing on the community, internal limitations were found such as the lack of appropriate bike parking at the school, sustainable mobility campaigns, the promotion and relevance of bicycles by the school’s committee.
Riding a bicycle as a healthy practice and an exercise routine were both identified as the main reasons favouring cycling. Another popular reason has to do with the amount of time spent commuting, which can be less than a third of what would regularly be spent by bus or car.
Finally, findings allowed us to conclude that before promoting bikes as a sustainable means of transportation, we needed internal and external actions to improve the security and infrastructure conditions in favour of those who cycle.
Taking into account that this is the first project of sustainable mobility lead by our school community, there is a lot of work to get done. After the brainstorming and research process, we decided to work towards the promotion of bicycle use. So, we divided our project into 3 stages:
Phase 1: Communication
A- Student participation and involvement in the school’s mobility committee (two of the students of the project are participating in the committee once a month)
B - Meeting held with the administrative director of the school to present internal and external bike users’ needs (She facilitated the communication of a local political leader in charge of promoting sustainable mobility issues in the schools sector and provided the resources needed to build a bike parking at school)
We also scheduled, for December 2017, mobility campaigns with high school students, teachers and workers.
C - Establish communication with mobility local authorities through email (They offered mobility workshops to promote sustainable mobility at school, to be held at the third stage of the project)
D- Participation in the Public Leadership Seminar at Universidad de los Andes (one of the main institutions promoting the use of bicycles) - During this seminar we had the opportunity to talk to the main bike promoter of the local mobility entity in Bogotá (Secretaría de Movilidad), Andrés Felipe Vergara, who shared with us experiences from other neighbouring institutions with similar concerns and how they were approaching them. He also provided relevant information in order to establish connections with them and work together to present a formal proposal to the local entities of mobility and infrastructure (Secretaría de Movilidad y de Infraestructura)
Phase 2: Design and elaboration of proposal and Phase 3: Sustainable mobility campaign to be held during the remaining year 2017.