Biking in Bogota and the East Bay

Stop worrying about the auto industry and start thinking about the hundreds of miles of bike paths in the capital of Colombia

Published December 13, 2008 12:01AM (EST)

Enough with the gloom and doom. When life gets to be too much for me I get on a bike, and after a week of watching the U.S. domestic auto industry teeter on the brink of annihilation, my two-wheeled, non-gas-powered transportation device is looking awfully attractive.

To wit: The current cover of the East Bay Monthly. Ho ho ho!

I usually like to ride in the East Bay Hills, but now I'm wondering, how how long would it take to pedal to Bogotá, Colombia from Berkeley?

As Commissioner of Parks, Sports and Recreation for the city of Bogotá, Guillermo Penalosa oversaw the creation of 174 "physically separate" bike paths, and numerous other municipal enhancements meant to send the message, in his words, "that a person on a thirty dollar bike is as important as a person in a 30,000 dollar car." Penalosa spoke at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco in November, and if you've got seven minutes to spare, it's worth it, if just to groove on the enthusiasm in his voice as he scrolls through slides showing bike paths snaking through the city.

Or, to boil down his presentation in just four words:

"Can you imagine? Fantastic!"


By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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