Is Dia Sin Carro in Bogotá of Any Use?
The Dia sin Carro in Bogotá has a nice idea behind it. It’s supposed to teach the citizens of Bogotá to use other means of transportation apart from their cars. The idea is to essentially have a smoother flowing city, with less traffic by having more people use alternative means of transportation to move around the Bogotá and get to work.
No personal cars are allowed. Cars that are allowed to roam the streets include:
- Public Transportation
- ER and funeral cars
- Diplomatic cars
- Cars with private security (those with thick bulletproof windows and/or bodyguards)
Although the Dia Sin Carro in Bogotá sounds like a good idea, the question is: is it really useful and is it really serving its purpose? Or are there are better alternatives to which the government is simply not taking action upon?
If you look at the list of cars allowed to drive on the Dia Sin Carro, basically, the rich and the poor can carry on their day the same. It’s only the middle and upper-middle class who are affected. Are the rich exempt from society’s rules?
Although I will admit that I appreciate a day with fewer cars on the roads and an all-day ciclovía that allows me to move around the city in peace, without the fear of having to get run over by crazy drivers.
But this isn’t about me and in my opinion, here is why I think Día Sin Carro is completely useless.
People who own cars will most likely opt for Uber/Taxis/Private Chauffeured Bullet-Proof Cars
I have noticed that many locals in Bogotá have never used public transport. You would think it was only the elite and select few, but as it turns out, quite a lot of people don’t feel comfortable or safe using the public means of transportation in Bogotá. Plus, it doesn’t reach all parts of the city and can sometimes be overcrowded and confusing. As a result, people that usually travel by car will most likely not take public means of transportation on the Día Sin Carro and will opt for a Taxi or Uber. (See my article on Taxis vs. Uber and why it’s Hard to Downgrade).
And for those who can afford it, they will have their own personal driver/bodyguard and bullet-proof car which is allowed out that day.
And what happens the day after Día Sin Carro?
In addition, everyone that was unable to run their errands on the day of Día Sin Carro will do them the day after, which will result in even worse traffic compared to if there hadn’t been a Diá Sin Carro in Bogotá at all.
What could be done instead of Día Sin Carro in Bogotá?
If the main goal is to incentivize residents to use other means of transportation apart from their cars maybe the government could focus on….
ALTERNATIVE #1: A better infrastructure (surprised?!)
Many people tell me that they would take the Transmilenio to work if it dropped them off close to where they needed to get and if it wasn’t so full.
I, personally, am big on riding my bicycle. However, in Bogotá, I only ride my bike a few streets around my house. Why? Well to begin with, I find that there are not enough bike lanes and well-maintained bike lanes to move adequately within the city.
I have heard of the occasional newspaper reporting happy citizens riding their bike to work thus avoiding traffic and getting some exercise in their day. But if the point of exercising is to stay healthy, I don’t think that the large quantities of toxic gas emissions inhaled from cars are healthy. On the contrary, I think it’s pretty counterproductive and probably more harmful to your health then it is good. I wonder why the news doesn’t say anything about that?! (and why there is a lack of government regulation to control these exhaust emissions while other countries take it seriously beats me)
Not only do I NOT ride my bike around the city for those reasons, but the main one being that I simply feel unsafe due to lack of civic education! It’s the law of the jungle in Bogotá and cars do as they please (I swear I’ve seen just about every single possible infraction there is to commit, including by police officers themselves). So when I have to ride my bike next to other cars and cross at the same intersection as vehicles, I feel vulnerable on my two wheels compared to car drivers that couldn’t care.
Yes, Ciclovía is nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem of a crap infrastructure!
If I’d have to choose, I’d rather stay stuck in traffic in a car than ride my bike and swallow black smog due to poor government regulation + risk getting in an accident because of a lack of civic education.
ALTERNATIVE #2: Civic education in Bogotá
Maybe if people would be more aware and more conscious of their neighbors and their community, Bogotá would be safer, people would respect each other in the streets, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, there is a severe lack of civic education thus rendering Día Sin Carro once again…INEFFECTIVE!
Car drivers don’t want to take the Transmilenio because they don’t want to get robbed and because they don’t want to deal with the endless shit involved from their fellow bogotanos having no manners. They rather get a cab/uber.
I, as a bicycle rider, don’t want to ride my bike because I don’t want to get run over because of some animal of a driver who doesn’t follow the rules.
With that said I consider that this day is pretty much useless and ineffective. I find it hilarious when newspapers publish that gas emissions were reduced by X amount and that the Día Sin Carro turned out to be a great success. Obviously, someone is controlling the media. One day does not make a difference, it’s the long term that does.
I feel like the government essentially tries to put the blame for the city’s problems on its citizens. Like making bogotanos aware of other means of transportation will achieve a more organized Bogotá… Maybe the government should own up to the responsibility and understand that they should focus on other ideas apart from a silly Día Sin Carro in Bogotá.