40. Field Dispatches from Four Continents

By March 29, 2020 Uncategorized


In this, our second episode of the COVID-19 era, we hear from listeners around the globe about how their cities look and feel. Is it safe to ride transit? How does it feel to walk through towns and cities as people protect themselves and others by wearing masks? There’s been a surge in the number of cyclists — and speeding drivers — on city streets. But will people keep biking when this ends? Listeners in Bogotá, Paris, Los Angeles, Taipei and Washington, D.C., let us know how it’s all going. Plus, Aaron tells us why car ownership has taken over his brain, Sarah explains the concept of an “emotional washing machine” and Doug is hearing things in Brooklyn.

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

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You can find the full transcript of the episode here.


A cartoon illustrating how streets built for cars leave no room for people takes on new meaning 

This episode was edited by Ali Lemer.

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  • Chris Morfas says:

    Thanks for highlighting how different communities are responding to the crisis.

    The big changes in Bogotá lasted only a few days before the quarantine was imposed. As of 29 March, there are now 30 km or so of additional in-street bikeways available to health and other essential workers. Bicycling (and walking) not needed for food or medical purposes is banned. The Sunday Ciclovía is suspended…Post-quarantine, the temporary lanes may provoke a debate about the allocation of public space and the need for Bogotá to improve the quality of its bike infrastructure (as opposed to its constant touting of the quantity of its mostly poor-to-mediocre ciclorrutas). Ricardo Montezuma, a leading intellectual here, described them as offering a possible third-generation evolution of bike infrastructure: First came the often lousy but plentiful E. Peñalosa ciclorrutas 1998-2000 created mostly by taking sidewalk space away from people who walk; Second were hit-and-miss attempts at in-street bicicarriles started by Mayor Petro 2012-15 and continued by E. Peñalosa2 2016-19; Third, these “temporary” roadway space reallocations may become permanent? The in-street bikeways, even if they lasted only a few days, gave Bogotá bicyclists an idea of what a logical network of connected bikeways prioritizing direct, efficient, and coherent bike travel would look like. Our new Mayor Claudia López is a very enthusiastic bike rider and supporter of bicycle transportation and may see this as her opportunity to make real E. Peñalosa’s admirably ambitious but ludicrously premature August 2018 declaration of Bogotá as the “Bicycling Capital of the World.”

    Wishing you health and tranquility.

    Chris Morfas

    • Chris Morfas says:

      So now it’s May 8 and Bogotá is slowly re-opening. The city is facing an enormous mobility challenge: reducing overcrowding on its overwhelmed bus system. In the past, Transmilenio has often carried 6-8 ppl/sq meter during peak travel hours; That won’t do in this era of physical distancing. Mayor Claudia López has declared that the bus system must run at no more than 35% capacity. A key strategy to reduce bus travel is to move people from buses to bikes. The Mayor today declared that “Bogotá es bici” and that 80km worth of temporary in-street bikeways, which during the quarantine have been used mostly by essential workers and delivery services, will become permanent for general use. They will be (I believe) the first in-street bikeways on major streets in Bogotá history. Depending upon final design, they may respresent a much-needed boost in the quality of bike infrastructure here.

  • Michael Luna says:

    Hi! Streets in Bogotà these days are so alone you can walk in the middle of them. But the transit is the worst thing you can take nowadays! Operators are sending buses every 20 minutes and congestion is visible in the furthest stations of the city center! I hope you’re doing well.