Every sense to roll
By: Maria Fernanda Caballero Mejía
Photo by medellin.gov.co
The bicycle is the most approved transportation method in any city of the world, even more on a developed country; prestige is a synonymous for this, as well as education and culture.
The ongoing city’s constructions aren’t more than desire to become a metropolis. That’s why the Secretaria de Movilidad Ciudadana de Medellín (called road police on other countries) has created a new strategy to make it called “Mobility Agent on two wheels”.
As you read this or I’m writing this, surely someone will be getting some pedestrian and bicycle use lessons. If a pedestrian is walking on a bicycle lane, a bicycle rider is going over a sidewalk, someone didn’t respect the bicycle traffic light, a car parked on a bicycle lane; anyone, if you did wrong, you have to learn!
Bicycle agents have been in the entity since a long time, they have the same responsibilities as the motored vehicles agents: give tickets, know about crashes and immobilize vehicles; the only logical thing to be different is their outfits; they have a sporty uniform and their common blue helmet is replaced by a cycle helmet. Their main directive is to create citizens culture in relation to the other road participants so they respect cycle routes and cycle roads.
Starting august, an educational period started in the city, mostly on the more implemented cycle routes are: Laureles, Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Sunday’s cycle roads; however, the used roads keep growing as the number of agents. Breaking one of the mobility rules will cost $85,912 COP.
Not going on the right lane, hold on to other moving vehicle, transporting someone or something diminishing visibility or making driving uncomfortable, driving on sidewalks or bridges, driving without using lights: it’s mandatory for you to drive with a white light on the front and a red one on the back at night, both must be projected; having bad breaks or no breaks at all, driving through restricted areas or high speed ones, not using the cycle lanes on existing implemented areas. (If you’re going on a road without cycle lanes, you have to drive on the right side and no more than one meter away from the right sidewalk), You can’t go between two moving cars or motorcycles or making your bicycle public transportation, you can’t drive your bicycle after drinking alcohol, doing so will get your license revoked and immobilize your bicycle. If there aren’t any licenses, this report can affect future ones.
The tickets are made with your ID number. If a mobility agent spots an infraction or finds out you’re not driving under ideal conditions, he’ll be able to make the report right away. The driver has the right to a hearing and have a discount for paying tickets on the following 5 days after it was made. There’s also a public phone line for inquiries: 4457777.
Being a friendly pedestrian to be “bikefriendly” is something the city is screaming for, good practices can’t be of just a few. Medellin is restructuring right now, it wasn’t initially designed for what it wants to become, investing on motored vehicles was a bigger priority and teach to unlearn is stranger to stratums: people are too lazy to walk; but are also afraid of getting hit by a car or motorcycle, cars are parked on sidewalk ramps designed to reduced mobility people, they think they can just turn on the parking lights and park wherever they want, and there’s not even space to walk on the streets, among others. Thanks to all of that and the actual pollution problem, the number of bicycle riders keeps growing, it’s a snowball of example, and this helps the municipality administration to realize that changes are needed. A lot of citizens did take on the good habit years ago, they’re the street warriors who still risk it on the roads, driving long distances every day, wearing masks to protect their lungs as visionaries, being victims to accidents thanks to reckless drivers; but still on their own law, they say it has taken long enough for this to be accepted and although it’s welcome, they say there’s still a lot to do: “fun learning campaigns must be done, dynamic ones, educational, reaching people, mostly to people who drive cars, motorcycles, big or small, most of the times they see us as obstacles and want to take us down, that has to change; but nowadays is not the same as before, I have to admit it, culture keeps positioning itself and I like that” says Sebastian Velasquez, city’s bicycle rider, since 2009.
The city and the medellinenses are changing, it’s a work in progress. The people, the knowledge is getting less sectored, more enclosing. Moving on a bicycle is a good image on a national level, attracting tourists who end up staying and feeling “Paisas” when they feel safety it’s a priority, feel confidence while on the streets using a bicycle as a transportation method, so two wheels sound louder.