Latin America pedals for clean air

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Three cities and one country are pioneers in the region for encouraging the use of bicycles as a means of transport. Find out what they are

Latin America pedals for clean air

The theme of this year's World Environment Day was the fight against air pollution, which kills 7 million people annually. Under this framework, here we tell you about three cities and a Latin American country that are making a difference by promoting the use of bicycles. Cycling has become a protagonist in these places and has enchanted thousands of Latinos who contribute to make their countries cleaner.

Leer en español: Latinoamérica pedalea por el aire limpio

1. The largest bike paths in Latin America are in Bogotá

The Colombian capital has a system of bike paths of 540 km exclusive for the use of bicycles. By the end of 2019, the mayor's office of the city expects to reach 580 km of this type of road and turn Bogotá into the "world capital of the bicycle". The IDB says that during 2015, 5% of trips were made on this means of transport.

The number has increased in recent years and according to the UN, two million people are mobilized daily in steel horses. In addition to the bike paths, Bogotá has a bicycle lane on weekends and the program has encouraged the use not only of bicycles but also of exercising on the city's auto tracks. However, the program has detractors who criticize the measure since it only focuses on recreation and not on the implementation of sustainable transport.

Despite the criticism, the cycleway has motivated adults and children to exercise and use means that do not pollute. The UN explains that cycling is part of a healthy lifestyle and children between six and 10 years who attend this activity have six more minutes of vigorous physical activity than children who do not go to the bike path.

2. Ecobici to the rescue of Mexico City

Mexico City is one of the most polluted Latin American cities in the region. In fact, in the month of May, the city had to declare the environmental emergency due to the high levels of pollution produced by forest fires and gases emitted by automobiles.

To counteract the low levels of air quality, in 2010 a public bicycle initiative was born to decongest the city and promote the use of sustainable transport. " ECOBICI is the public bicycle system in Mexico City that has integrated the bicycle as an essential part of mobility. It allows registered users to take a bicycle from any cycle and return it in the closest to its destination in unlimited 45-minute trips."

Today, this system has 170 thousand registered users, 480 stations and more than 6800 bicycles. This system is the largest network of public bicycles in Latin America and has served as an inspiration for other countries such as Argentina and Ecuador. The UN details that "20% of users stopped using private cars or taxis, and now they favor the bike as their means of transport. 95% believe that thanks to this system urban mobility has improved, according to an official survey.

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3. Cleaner air while monitoring the most polluted air

In Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, bicycles are not only transport, they also monitor the air quality of the city through sensors that are installed on bicycles. The monitoring, which has 30 volunteers, was given thanks to the Open-Seneca program that "allows people to build sensors, measure personal exposure to air pollution and see their own data. Our objectives are to create awareness, initiate a behavior change and transfer the knowledge of the hardware to build it".

The information collected by these bicycles will be presented to the Congress of the Nation to legislate on air quality. In statements collected by the United Nations, Matías Acosta of the University of Cambridge, an organization that promotes the initiative of the hand of the Canadian and British embassies in Argentina and the Secretariat of Environment and Sustainable Development, stated that "one of the objectives of the project is to present a report with the results to the Congress of the Nation so that it legislates in matter of air pollution ".

"The information collected by cyclists will be incorporated into the measurements of the automatic air monitoring network of Buenos Aires. The data of this network are published daily on the website of the Government of the city, "says the UN.

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4. If you use the bicycle you will have tax benefits

In February of this year, Costa Rica established a law to decarbonize the country by 2050. One of the measures is to encourage the use of bicycles and for them, the government will give tax benefits to those companies that promote the use of bicycles among their employees.

"Transportation generates more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in the Central American nation," explains the UN. That is why the Costa Rican government is betting on clean mobility and giving priority to pedestrians and active mobility. The law "promotes the use of bicycles as a means of transportation, work, and recreation, for the benefit of human health and complement to reduce the use of fossil fuels in transportation."


LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

Translated from "Latinoamérica pedalea por el aire limpio"