Cycling Throughout Bogotá
Bogotá´s Sunday Ciclovia is a weekly morning event (8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.) during which a number of city streets are closed to car traffic. Instead the streets are converted into a bicycle lanes and playgrounds, where city dwellers can get fresh air, exercise, teach their children to bicycle and in general enjoy the advantages of biking and walking freely in the city. Mayor Augusto Ramirez-Ocampo created the beginnings of the Ciclovia between 1982 and 1984 and it has been developed ever since to become something of a street party, which is one of the most characteristic and charming features of the city. These days Ciclovia covers 120km / 75 miles of city streets with more than one million participants every week. Thanks to Ciclovia and other city council initiated bike friendly policies, such as the construction of bike lanes separate from the main roads, a recent study of the Inter-American Development Bank found out that Bogotá is the best city for cyclists in whole Latin America. Measured in kilometres Bogotá has the most bike lanes when compared with 56 major cities in the region.
The best part of Ciclovia is that it´s getting all the social classes together, enjoying the day with free entertainment and activities in safe environment. The streets are lined up with food vendors with breathtaking offering of fresh fruit juices, arepas (corn bread) and other warm snacks with very reasonable pricing and you can see and taste fruits you never even heard of before! Depending on the time at hand, you can choose a short hike up and down the peaceful Park Way; a beautiful boulevard in the traditional neighbourhood of Teusaquillo, which is filled with small cafes and bars. A longer hike could take you all the way up north to Usaquen (Carrera 7 # 116), where a busy Sunday market is buzzing with arts and crafts tables as well as delightful street performers. Usaquen is an old, colonially picturesque locality that used to be a separate municipality from Bogota before 1954. It offers one of the most progressive restaurant scenes in the city and it even holds an outdoor poetry workshop in the main square every Sunday.
One of the best Ciclovia routes, however, starts near the National Park (Parque Nacional Enrique Olaya Herrera), where there are many free activities ranging from puppet theatre for kids to zumba and yoga in the park. There you can eat your breakfast of papaya pieces and freshly squeezed orange juice there together with few of cups of local, sweet coffee called tinto, before continuing towards the city centre along the Carrera Septima (7. Street). After just 20 min of walking you arrive at the San Alejo flee market (Mercado de las Pulgas de San Alejo, Carrera 7 # 24-70), which is truly an authentic and old-fashioned one in this category: There’s everything from old telephones, radios, and electronic equipment to books, clothes, furniture and even plumbing supplies and tools, that you essentially have to pick all through to find the gems. Lots of fun to wander about – with a cautious eye on the pickpockets, which are plenty in this small and crowded city centre market.
In order to cover as much Bogotá as you can during your stay, I would recommend renting a bike. It is the best way to get the most out of the city in the form of street culture, parks, architecture – which varies a lot from one neighbourhood to another – and other outdoor city events. With Bogotá Pass you can rent mountain or continental style bikes from 2h to whole day at a time depending on your needs. You can also book a discounted City Tour by Bike with your Bogotá Pass, which is more comprehensive way to explore the places of interests: Every corner of a city comes with a story that not even the local ones necessarily know.
Aino Huusko – A Finnish poet living in Bogotá since 2014