Key policies and plans for sustainable transportation in Colombia are the National Development Plan, the National Urban Transport Policy, and the Action Plan for Sector Mitigation (Transportation).
The National Urban Transport Policy focuses on structuring, and restructuring, passenger transport systems in the cities of Colombia, and pays attention to NMT and road safety, and to supporting and promoting mass transit.
The 2014-2018 National Development Plan (Law 1753 of 2015) made explicit mention of NMT in article 31 (noting financing needs and investment plans for NMT) and article 32, where the state committed to acting to increase the use of NMT modes (journeys on foot, bicycle or tricycle). Article 204 commits the Ministry of Transportation to designing a strategy to include bicycle and NMT facilities in future road projects.
In 2016 the Sustainable Urban Mobility Unit, funded by the World Bank and attached to the Department of Transport and Traffic of the Ministry of Transport, published a guideline for cycle infrastructure in Colombia Cities, drafted because of expert national and international input, including citizen groups and workshops.
Bogotá, the capital of Colombia with almost 8 million people, is internationally recognised for its sustainable transport actions, in particular the 55 km TransMilenio BRT. The city also has an impressive network of bicycle lanes, of around 350 km) and a mode share of cycling trips of around 3.3%.
Bogotá was the first substantial case of carbon crediting in the transportation sector, used for the financing of vehicle procurement for the TransMilenio BRT system. The certification of the carbon credits was based on the scrapping of old buses and replacement with more energy efficient vehicles and improved system operation (Massink et al, 2011).
Car and vehicle parking restrictions, through a license tag system and prohibition from Bogotá’s central city streets during peak hours, are further key interventions (Cervero, 2005).
Bogotá is also what Cervero calls an extraordinary example of matching infrastructure hardware with public-policy software: Latin’s America’s most extensive network of cycleways, local parks, the world longest pedestrian corridor, and the planet’s biggest Car Free Day, in existence since 1974, where the city closes 120 km of main roads for seven daylight hours to create a ciclovia (cycling way) for cyclists, runners, skaters, and pedestrians. By 2005, 43% of the city’s transport investment budget goes to ancillary policy measures (Cervero, 2005).
Local commitments: Medellin
Medellin has a free public bike system, EnCicla, with has 50 stations, and 1 300 bicycles, integrated to the mass transport system of the city through the Metro and Metropla’s stations. The system was developed as part of Medellin’s Metropolitan Bicycle Master Plan. The goal is that by 2030, 10% of total trips in the Aburra Valley are by bicycle.
Civil society and social enterprise
Postobón, one of Colombia’s largest beverage companies and long-time sponsor of Colombian professional cycling, is using Buffalo Bicycles from World Bicycle Relief to improve education quality and performance in rural communities. To date, their program Mi Bici has provided 1 740 bicycles to students, teachers and community leaders in two districts where travel times average 45 minutes to two hours – even with access to a local bus. Postobón has observed that students with Buffalo Bicycles have reduced their commute by up to one hour plus absence rates have decreased by 80% on average.