Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Petro's Empty Bike Racks

On Plaza San Victorino, one of Petro's bike racks finds a user.
It's a strange political circumstance: Gustavo Petro, whose term as mayor of Bogotá is most remembered for trash-filled sidewalks and his resulting temporary ouster, is now a leading candidate for president.

Sure, Petro did do some good things: He finally got rid of the cart-pulling horses called zorros, which
Another Petro bike rack finds users!
often suffered beatings and hunger. And he stopped bullfights from being held, though they returned this year. But those aren't exactly urban transformations. Petro's administration also did pour money into services such as soup kitchens in poor neighborhoods - but then nearly every mayor does that.

Meanwhile, Bogotá's trashy sidewalks, air pollution and chaotic traffic, amongst other urban ills, all continued. A lot of us had hoped that an ex-guerrilla leader would find some daring, innovative solutions to those problems.

But one thing which even Petro's enemies agree about is that he's not corrupt. But while that may be true personally, I found evidence on Plaza San Victorino that corruption existed around Mayor Petro.

A lonely bicycle in a rack built for two dozen of them.
As many Bogotá residents know, San Victorino is not a safe place to leave your bike locked-up. It's located only a few blocks from the one-time drug-and-crime den called El Bronx, and it's still roamed by drug addicts and thieves who'll strip parts from your bike if not steal the whole thing.

All of which makes San Victorino an inadvisable place to park a bike. That, however, didn't stop the Petro administration, or one of its contractors, from installing racks there for some 200 bikes. Naturally, they are almost completely empty all of the time. But somebody earned a bundle of money by installing them.

Alongside Calle 26, you'll also find Petro-era wooden flooring as well as more bike racks, which
What does an empty bike rack say about Petro's governance?
were never used. (Actually, the unused racks were stolen.)

I don't know much about Petro's public works. But the little glimpse I've seen of them here in the center makes me wonder how many of Petro's buddies got rich by misusing public funds during his presidency.

Petro's administration did contribute to cycling by adding bike lanes, including the one alongside the Parkway in Teusaquillo. However, he could have supported cycling a lot more by placing these racks someplace where cyclists would actually use them.
A pretty low bar. 'You can say whatever you want against him, but you can never say that he stole public resources from the city.' Well, perhaps. 



By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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