Info & History
Ciclovia is a special event that allows pedestrians to exercise freely in the streets with their preferred method of transportation, as long as it isn’t a motor vehicle. On Sundays and public holidays, main streets block out all car traffic to allow runners, bicyclists, and skaters to roam free. Stages are set up for live entertainment, and you’ll find plenty of activities such as yoga and aerobics to consider joining in. There are options to rent bicycles if you happen to be a tourist who doesn’t have access to one, or you can sit and people watch. Nearly thirty percent of the population of Bogota participates, so it’s a fantastic way to get connected to the community if you happen to be a tourist in the area. It’s a safe way to have fun during the day time! That’s nearly two million people using the 120 kilometers of car free streets to have fun and enjoy their surroundings with family and friends each and every week. Bogota is a city that loves bicycles, there’s no doubt about that. Bicycle paths cover more than 360 kilometers of the city! That’s a beautiful thing when you consider the strength of the community and the environmental friendliness. Anybody who rides a bicycle in Bogota is helping to combat climate change and pollution.
You might notice this trend from any number of cities around the world, but it all started in Bogota back in the year 1974. It was created when the organizer, Jaime Ortiz Marino and other bicycle enthusiasts banded together to make it a reality. It didn’t become an official program until two years later when the Mayor at the time, Luis Prieto Ocampo, signed the 566 and 567 decrees. This made it officially supported by the department of transportation in Bogota. !
Ciclovias are not to be confused with ciclorutas which are permanent bike ways that operate every day of the year. There have been proposals by government officials to discontinue Ciclovia because they believe it contributes to traffic jams throughout the city, but every proposal like this has been defeated so far, and there hasn’t been another proposed since around 2007. It gives millions of people the chance to leave their homes and get physical activity along with socialization with the community. So, it goes without saying that this is usually quite a busy event in Bogota. It was even given a special award for contributing to the promotion of alternative exercise for large communities. For these reasons, Ciclovia is something that is here to stay for the years to come. This is why you’ll see so many cities across the world doing something similar to this!
How to Get There
Since this happens on over 100 kilometers of the streets of Bogota, all you need to do is get to the streets with your preferred method of transportation whether that’s walking, bicycling, running, or skateboarding. Obviously, you can’t drive a car through the Ciclovia, but you can get as close as possible and get dropped off if that’s what you’re looking to do. From there, you can totally enjoy the Ciclovia!
There’s no fee to participate in the weekly Ciclovia throughout Bogota, so don’t worry about coming up with an admission fee. The Ciclovia is open from seven in the morning to two in the afternoon on Sundays, as well as holidays throughout the year. It does cost around $10 to rent a bike from various locations if you need to do that.
There are often many vendors set up around the streets selling things like food, gifts, and clothing. Bring along some cash in case you see something that catches your eye!
There are guinea pig races that happen around the route, you just have to keep your eye out for them to get in on the friendly entertainment.
There are bike mechanics along the road for hire in the off chance that you have a flat tire or mechanical problem with your bike on the route.
If you want to ride your bike at a fast speed, try to come as soon as the streets open. This way, you won’t have to worry about dodging crowds.
Even though the streets are closed for cars, there are some adjacent roads that still have vehicles. For this reason, be sure to exercise caution and be patient if you have to wait for a turning car, etc.
Ciclovias are most busy in July and August. It isn’t as crowded from December to March. It can get quite rainy during the wet season in April and May, but there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy Ciclovia if that doesn’t bother you.
Consider using a helpful mobile application such as the Biko app. It uses GPS to track the route of cyclists, and also gives local information on safe places to park and other potential hazards. You can learn more about where to rent or buy bicycles, so it’s very helpful for those who want to participate but don’t yet have a bike or happen to be unfamiliar with the area.
Speaking of bicycle rental, the most popular spot for people to rent bicycles in the area of Bogota is north of the city in Virrey Park. There are other places like Santander Park and Plaza Bolivar. If you are pre-registered with the city, your bicycle rental is free.