Cycling in Colombia

Apologies to people who’ve posted comments in the past couple of weeks, I’ve have to make a couple of overseas trips (Ghana and Colombia) and in-between have been too busy to blog – but I should at least have kept an eye on new comments. Once you’ve been moderated once, I think comments automatically go through next time without delay.

The week before last there was a very well-attended Westminster Hall debate on cycling, prompted by the Times’ Cycle Safe campaign. I think I counted 56 MPs there. I did an intervention when I mentioned a scheme they have in Bogota (I’d been with the Colombian ambassador that morning, in advance of my trip), which attracted rather a lot of attention. Here’s some more details.


The Ciclovía (Spanish for bike path) is a community-based regular programme in which streets are temporarily closed to motorised transport allowing exclusive access to individual for leisure and physical activities. A Ciclovía is not just for recreation. It is also about social integration. The Ciclovía bring families outside of their homes to enjoy the streets, our largest public space.

Ciclovías started in Bogotá, Colombia, over thirty years ago as a response to the congestion and pollution of the city’s streets. The events commenced in 1976, when a Mayoral decree established four routes for the temporary closure of roads. The weekly Ciclovía was formally inaugurated in 1982 with the creation of a Ciclovía Committee, during the tenure of Mayor Hernando Durán Dussán. In 1995, the Ciclovía was expanded to cover 121 kilometres of roads in 70% of the city’s boroughs. The circuits were accompanied by parallel recreational activities and events.

Today, the Ciclovía takes place from 7am to 2pm every Sunday and public holiday on the main streets of Bogota and many other cities of Colombia. In Bogota, it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people participate. Currently, this programme is being implemented in 97 cities of 15 countries in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the US and Canada.

The health benefits are immense. According to a study carried out by the Universidad de los Andes (Bogota) and presented by Olga Sarmiento at the 20th IUHPE (International Union for Health Promotion and Education) World Conference on Health Promotion held in Geneva in July 2010, “for every dollar invested in the Ciclovía Programme in Bogota, between $3.67 and $4.83 are saved on direct medical costs due to physical activity”.

Due to the international interest in implementing the Ciclovía programme in cities across the world, the programme has developed a website which contains a basic teaching guide that covers the steps and procedures essential to the planning and implementation of a Ciclovía Recreativa, multimedia tools and an annex of documents: 


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