Its taken me nearly 3 years of living in this chaotic capital city to figure out what’s missing here………but I have at least figured it out, so why haven’t authorities???
In a capital city of nearly 8 million people, bicycle use has increased by 5 times in the city. It is estimated that there are between 300,000 and 400,000 trips made daily in Bogotá by bicycle. But ,is this really a good thing when the amount of cars used hasn’t really decreased and still people continue to drive like lunatics?
Lets just say that with the crazy and impatient car drivers, the even more ‘in a hurry taxis’, the doing-10-things-at-once bus drivers and the people on bikes who are un-eqquiped with safety wear and wiggling all over the road to avoid the millions of pot holes, that accidents are frequent and often deadly.
In 2011, 37% of traffic accidents that resulted in death were those of cyclists and pedestrians. 46.2% were of motorcyclists.
Traffic laws, including speed limits, are rarely obeyed and rarely enforced; creating chaotic and dangerous conditions for both drivers and pedestrians in major cities. Due to the constant heavy traffic, speed isn’t really a huge problem, I think what’s worse is the lack of lane structure – for example on a 2 lane road, its not uncommon to see 3 or 4 very un-organized lines of traffic with people and bikes weaving their way through the middle.
To make things worse, Seat belts are only mandatory for front-seat passengers in a private vehicle. Car seats are not mandatory for children, and people in the back of a car (however many there are of them) are free to do what they like without seatbelts. I’ve been in a car that had 2 people in the front and 6 in the back – three of those being adults.
So why am I writing this and what’s it all about?
I’m fed up of being on a bus, seeing ambulances with flashing lights and sirens stuck in traffic with no-one able to move out the way. Sometimes even though people could move out the way they don’t do it – this annoys me even more but that’s another issue.
So its a concerning thought that when one of the many traffic accidents happens in this city, the risk of it going fatal is due to the weight of the traffic, and the fact that the ambulances cant get through to the victim. Several times just this week I’ve been in taxis and told that they witnessed a death on the road because the ambulance was as late as 40 minutes getting to the scene!!!
Isn’t that shocking given that there are 7 main emergency hospitals in Bogotá city all operating different ambulance services?
So my confusion is that in a county full of people who are continuously trying to better what they have, make modifications on everyday issues and prove to the world that this city is modernising, can’t they see the simplicity and necessity for having paramedics on motorbikes / scooters?
Everyone knows here that if you need to get from one side of the city to the other in half the time, you use a bike to avoid the traffic jams…………….how long will it take before this idea is thought up by someone who actually has the power to enforce it. It could save so many lives.
Cycle responders, bike medics or bike ambulances, as they are variously called in different parts of the world, are professional, medically trained personnel who respond to emergencies by cycling or riding to them on bikes carrying essential equipment, providing life-saving medical aid in situations that more conventional emergency vehicles like ambulances cannot reach.
In Britain, there is evidence that they are not only saving lives, but saving money. Figures from the London Ambulance Service, show that the special cycle crews have saved £300,000 in fuel costs, or the equivalent of 20,000 ambulance journeys since 2000.
For a city like Bogotá looking to save money, reduce traffic, reduce the death toll and modernise, is this not a really simple, obvious solution??