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Friday, 25 February, 2000, 02:48 GMT
Bogota's 'beautiful' car-free day
Most people (and cab drivers) think it is a good idea
By South America correspondent James Reynolds

Residents of the Colombian capital, Bogota, have been enjoying the city's first-ever traffic-free day.
Measures are needed to curb pollution
Bogota's mayor, Enrique Penalosa, decided to ban private transport in an effort to cut pollution and to encourage people to use other forms of transport.

It was, according to Mayor Penalosa, "a beautiful, immense experiment", and most residents agreed.

The ban on private transport is for one day, and one day only.

More than 600,000 cars were left at home as most Bogotanos went to work by bike, on foot or even on horseback.

Giant jam

There were a handful of exemptions from the ban. Buses were let off, as were taxis and also the ranks of armoured jeeps used by government officials and diplomats.

The empty streets marked a tremendous change for Bogota. Usually, the morning and evening rush hours bring paralysis to the city streets, and every year more than 1,000 people are killed in road accidents in Bogota.
A far cry from the usual rush hour conditions
Enrique Penalosa declared that the traffic-free day was a success. He said that air pollution had declined and that the city should do this sort of thing every year.

He also made it clear that Bogota needed to improve its public transport and also find the money to build a metro in order to keep the streets clear.

If nothing was done in the next few years, he warned, Bogota would soon become nothing but a giant traffic jam.

See also:

06 Feb 00 | Europe
20 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
22 Sep 98 | Europe
16 Oct 99 | Americas
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