I must say that I agree with the spirit behind Eric's observations. All of us
want clean air. But sometimes we forget that it is human beings (and other
living organisms) that need the clean air. If some policies harm human beings
then we have to decide who, when and how. In many less motorised countries the
most vociferous and influential sustainable development advocates belong to the
upper class, and their bias shows:
1. They are willing to pass laws to shut down workshops and factories in
cities, limit traffic, make public transport more expensive (by requiring more
expensive technonolgy), etc. because they have to breathe the same air as every
one else. But hey don't really care if thousands of poorer citizens lose their
jobs, go hungry or are forced to migrate.
2. On the other hand, the same concerned activists rarely demand that every
one must get clean and bacteria free water in their taps (if and when they get
it) because the upperclass can afford to buy bottled water.
From my experience in India, letters to newspapers only represent upper
class views. Street protests reflect the views of the "other". I am afraid the
"other " does not see our views as benign. Citizens hearings in Delhi have
brought ot the fact that some of our clean air policies have made life
difficult for hundreds of thousands, many of them have pulled thier children out
of school, others have sent their familiesd back to villages, still others are
forced into prostitution, and so on. They certainly don't believe that we want a
Sustainable transport policies will have to keep human beings in the centre and
not just chemically clean air.
> * (This note contains the earlier correspondence on the Bogota crisis of the
> last day's, placed here for those who have not had access to it. For the
> latest direct, check out http://eltiempo.terra.com.co/. For history, try
> Dear Lake, Christopher and Group,
> Thanks for those fine heads-up Christopher and Lake. Let me run this
> through you and the others as I understand it. Since it is quite possible
> that I am at error in some part if not all of this, it will be with pleasure
> to hear from you all so that we get this important story in its full and
> necessary perspective. And at the same time, we have to be aware that time
> is very short here if there is anything that we might do to attenuate this
> 1. Wow! One does has to wonder about what goes on in the mind of
> purportedly sentient person in a Third World city who would be prepared to
> take on the couple of hundred thousand people who work in the private bus
> and taxi sector. History is littered with the corpses of those who have
> tried, whether in Chile, in Colombia itself a decade and a half before
> Salvador Allende has his face-off with the truckers, or... and the list goes
> 2. We must be careful to keep a balanced perspective on all this. The
> transportation and public space accomplishments of the city and its
> administrators over these last few years have been of a very high levels,
> and against all the odds. I think we have given excellent coverage of this
> here in The Commons, as well as our active, world-level support. No problem
> there. We love Bogota and we love certainly no less the emerging Bogota
> Model for Third World Cities. But we also need to be very sure that we have
> the right model, and that as we are seeing is a terrific challenge indeed.
> Work for which many hands are needed!
> 3. I would tend to be very careful however about seeing this as an "us"
> (good TransMilenio, bike paths, walking and pubic spaces, Ciclovías (car
> free Sundays), and all that other good stuff) and "them" (all those filthy,
> polluting, half criminal, dangerous and the list goes on vehicles) issue.
> This is however, I am afraid, the sub-text of what has been going on in
> Bogota more or less all along- and is on area in which I was in strong
> opposition with previous administration (but apparently without being
> vociferous enough about it to make my point).
> 4. By the way, let's ponder for a moment who's the "them" there. Let's
> see -- bearing in mind that these are very rough figures since the actual
> number of vehicles out there on the streets is subject to all kinds fo real
> world stuff - we have something like 55,000 taxis and 35,000 or so buses of
> various types and sizes. Figure anywhere from 3 to 5 support people (AKA
> jobs) for each of those vehicles, and we quickly are moving up toward half a
> million. Then factor in families of 3, 4 or more dependents? Hey, that's a
> pretty big number of people to be playing with. Working people with no
> safety net.
> 5. The point needs to be made about these operators that there is nothing
> superfluous about the services they are providing. While they maybe didn't
> get doctorates in transportation planning from some splendid First World
> schools, they nonetheless are succeeding in providing services that people
> want and are willing to pay for - without the great sucking sound of public
> 6. Is this to say that the transport planners and the city do not have a
> point? Of course they do -- there are a real set of problems and challenges
> out there that have to be resolved. There are, for example, a lot of empty
> buses roaming around once the peak hour traffic has passed, and sure that's
> a problem. And they are old and pollute in FULL CAPS. And they run
> illegally pretty much as they wish. And and... But there are ways, and
> there are ways.
> 7. I for one was looking forward to resolving these dangerous contradictions
> with careful discussions and well thought out positions before going to bat
> on this one. It had been my hope (and I guess it still is) to create a High
> Level Task Force, whose job it would be to work with, follow and advice the
> city and all those concerned about their transport-related policies over the
> 15 year period which has been targeted by the successful October Referendum
> (which as you ay recall we vociferously and with high profile supported from
> here). But months have passed and there is still no Task Force in sight.
> 8. This next sentence, you either go with or you don't. In the latter
> instance, there is surely no reason to read beyond it.
> 9. The future of transport in Third World cities must (MUST!) take the form
> of a dynamic, innovative, and patient partnership that brings together "new"
> concepts such as the TransMilenio, waling and cycling as transport, in
> parallel with a steady upgrading and INCLUSION of the very large number of
> people and small groups who today are making their livings and providing
> needed services in the city.
> 10. Anything less than that will be a victory for the authoritarian central
> planners and a defeat for access, efficiency and social justice. The problem
> with folks who learned everything they know about life in universities and
> then get nice jobs in administrations or as consultants, is that they very
> often don't know much about life on the street. Nor apparently much about
> concepts such as love, community, responsibilities to family and dignity.
> And yet these are central issues here.
> 11. You see, people such as the taxistas and small bus operators have to be
> seen as OWNING THEIR JOBS, which means that we as advisors or administrators
> cannot simply take them away from them. Nor introduce unilateral and large
> changes in their working environment, without some sort of tit for tat. And
> where's the tit for tat in Bogota today?
> 12. The weakness of the Transmilenio et al plan until now is that it
> presumes a certain vision of the future of the city which is essentially
> cloistered, academic and unreal. It has its strong points, and its weaker
> points. And this is probably the weakest of all.
> 13. What Bogota needs (if I may) is a well thought out network of TMs, cycle
> paths and the rest, plus draconian parking and private car control
> limitations plus lots of small vehicles scooting around providing cheap and
> flexible transportation for people of all economic groups - and lots of good
> jobs! The potential for upgrading these private systems is enormous and
> many sided.
> 14. And are the people who are the drivers, operators, owners, etc. easy to
> work with? You bet they aren't! Life is tough out there on the street and
> most of the time they meet a guy in a suit it's because the suited one is
> going to make things worse for them. And here, dear friends, we have one
> more example.
> 15. I am dead sure that this whole thing can be resolved, but the first step
> in this process has to be wisdom and not wounded honor. And it has to be
> taken by the administration.
> 16. Mayor Mockus has a terrific opportunity here. At the same time while
> backing away from their ill planned (and rotten) idea of extending the Pico
> y Placa by fiat, he can first declare a hiatus, let the guys get back to
> work in a normal way, while announcing that the government is now ready to
> enter into a New Mobility Partnership with the small service providers -
> with the backing (if it can be done in the needed hurry, if only in
> principle as a first step) of folks such as the UNDP, WB, IADB and the other
> usual suspects.. including bilateral aid programs.
> By doing this they will snatch victory out of the jaws of the defeat which
> they are sure to meet if they keep playing for the win at all costs. Hey,
> this is a great opportunity for them, and for the Bogota Model. So, what do
> you have to say about that? And what can we do with this next?
> PS. Incidentally, I have a hard time in agreeing with your criticism, Lake,
> of El Tiempo's coverage. Let's not forget they have been consistent
> supporters of positive transport innovation over these last years, including
> for the first (and second) award winning Car Free Day. If they are not
> lining up behind the planners, does this necessarily mean that they are
> wrong or mean spirited? I doubt it on both scores. I have checked carefully,
> including today, and find the coverage quite balanced and fair.
> = = = = =
> Letter 1 from Christian Dunkerley from Bogota on Mon 8/6/2001 10:56 PM
> Dear Eric,
> I am writing to you from an internet cafe in Bogota... I was caught in the
> mess on Thursday, and the blockage was massive. In fact, it was the worst
> that Bogota has experienced in its entire life. Most of the main
> intersections and roads were blocked. Rich and poor had to walk: there was
> no other way out. It was very democratic: everyone was affected. In my
> case, I had to walk around 6 miles to get back home. Not even schools or
> emergency services were spared.
> The funny thing is that I spent 5 years in a research project at ITS-Leed
> University studying the impact of road infrastructure closures in
> Colombia!!! If you want more precise details of the closures(and my
> publications on this area), I can send them when I get back to the UK... my
> other email address is cdunkerley@...
> Christian Dunkerley
> Transport Economist
> TRL Limited
> = = = =
> Letter 2 from Lake Sagaris [sagaris@...] on Tue 8/7/2001 3:08 PM
> Hi Eric
> Patricio and I just got back from Bogota where we spent quite a bit of time
> with the folks at TransMilenio, Ciclovías, etc. They're doing an amazing
> job in very difficult conditions. It was quite clear, however, that El
> Tiempo has taken a very strong editorial line against TransMilenio itself
> and that there is an enormous and very important debate going on about what
> should happen with the rest of the transportation system in the city. I'm
> not sure that you should be so pessimistic -- rather than a "screw up" in
> Bogota, I'd characterize this as a "Crucial debate" in that it is very
> important that the positive initiatives taken by authorities past and
> present be recognized and receive broad and increasingly active support
> from the citizens. Otherwise, in the conditions (33,000 buses!!!, not to
> mention taxis, etc.) existing in Bogotá it will be very difficult to expand
> the benefits of TransMilenio beyond the current 340,000 -- 1 million by
> years end -- daily passenger trips (this should end up being about 1/7 of
> those who move by bus, which in turn is 80% of daily commutes).
> One problem is that authorities in general and in Latin America in
> particular constantly underestimate the importance of citizens'
> participation and hence support for their transportation policies. They
> think they can change the city without the citizens, a deadly assumption.
> If you look at the letters to the editor section of the same issue of El
> tiempo which you posted, most of the letters are very sensible and express
> support for "Pico y Placa" and, in general, the measures being taken by the
> authorities. There is also widespread approval of TransMilenio, which is
> also (miracle of miracles!!!) making money, and these are crucial elements
> to the debate.
> Anyway, I may be missing something as I haven't read the papers from Bogotá
> in the past week, but in general we found people on the street were also
> very happy with TransMilenio. We found it was still being underestimated in
> the sense of what it could do for local business (same with the Ciclovías)
> and that is an important gap, but everything takes time and it will surely
> come eventually.
> All best
> PS I'm cc'ing this to you because I suspect the list won't take the new
> address I'm sending from.
> At 07:26 AM 07/08/01 +0200, you wrote:
> >Dear Colleagues,
> >I would very much like to have the benefit of your reactions and thoughts
> >to what is currently going on in Bogota. I personally and professionally
> >find it extremely distressing.
> >Have a look at today's El Tiempo at
> >http://eltiempo.terra.com.co/06-08-2001/prip83036.html to get the latest.
> >(I attach the usual horrible machine translation, without apologies for
> >anyone who needs a bit of help in making their way through the Spanish
> >If you look around through the recent issues of El Tiempo, you can see this
> >storm coming. And if you want a flavour for how things are looking out
> >there on the streets, check out
> >Those of us who follow transport matters in the Third World are well aware
> >of what a dynamite keg it can be. That's on the one hand. But then there
> >is all the careful work that has been done over these last years to make
> >progress in building a new model of r in Third World cities. If the
> >administration gets this one any wronger, that could be the real victim of
> >all this.
> >There is an expression that I remember from German when I was little, which
> >went that as soon as a child says something clever at the table it's time
> >put him to bed. This situation reminds me sadly of that: the original Pico
> >y Placa (Odd/Even) scheme of the previous (Peñalosa) administration was
> >extremely well thought out and has worked admirably with private cars for
> >several years. Admirably! And now the new mayor (a fine and intelligent
> >man, as it happens) and his advisors (ahem!) have decided that, since it
> >works so well and they still want less traffic, well why not apply it to
> >private buses and taxis? Ouch!
> >But hey! maybe I have this all horribly wrong. I'd love to think that's the
> >case and that they have really thought all this through and that the Bogota
> >Model is going to come through this unscathed.
> >Eric Britton
> >The @New Mobility Forum is permanently at http://newmobility.org
> >The Commons ___Sustainable Development and Social Justice___
> >Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara, 75006 Paris, France
> >Eric.Britton@... Tel: +331 4326 1323
> >= = = =
> >BOGOTÁ, ANOTHER TIME TO HALF MARCH FOR UNEMPLOYMENT OF TRANSPORT
> >The transporters again carry out a work stoppage to protest against
> extending the
> Odd/Even scheme for public service vehicles. Hundreds of citizens
> >crowd together in the stations of the service of the mass transport
> >Transmilenio, the only one that currently works. Others carry out long
> walks to
> >arrive to their working place. Today there are no classes in the district
> >and private schools. For the time being, there are no blockades.
> >To the edge of the midnight they broke the conversations among the Mayor
> >Antanas Mockus and the transporters of Bogotá, with that which was firm the
> >measure of the pick and badge for the public transportation and today
> >an unemployment will be presented on the part of taxis and buses in the
> >capital, fair the day of its birthday number 463.
> >With mutual accusations of intransigence, Mockus and the transporters gave
> >end at eight hours of negotiation after which there were not agreements.
> >Mayor's office asked to the from Bogotá ones not to take today buses,
> >busetas, taxis or collective whose badges finish in 1, 2, 3 or 4, and the
> >Metropolitan Police gets ready to make complete the restriction to the
> >public transportation that began a.m. at 5:30 o'clock
> >The drivers announced protests with the use of the call 'Operation turtle
> >Miguel Ángel Pérez, spokesman of Apetrans, accused Mockus of working with "
> >bad faith " in front of the union transporter, but the Minister of the
> >Interior, Armando Estrada, assured to be witness of the conciliatory spirit
> >of the burgomaestre.
> >They carry to an extreme safety measures
> >The director of the National, general Police Luis Ernesto Gilibert, noticed
> >yesterday that the institution to its position already adopted the
> >measures to prevent that the city is paralyzed by the transporters again.
> >According to Gilibert, their men have the order of impeding the blockade of
> >main and secondary roads of the city, and he/she said that in this occasion
> >the authorities won't be consequent with the drivers.
> >To avoid any incident, the number of agents of the Metropolitan Police was
> >reinforced with troops of the Police of Highways and the Police of
> >Cundinamarca. About 3.000 men travel from last night the city.
> >Likewise, a strict control will be made to the use of radio frequencies for
> >judicializar those companies that allow the drivers to use this means to
> >perturb the public order.
> >Yesterday he/she took place a safe-deposit advice in the biggest Mayor's
> >office to which attended Government's secretary, Soraya Montoya; the
> >commandant of the Metropolitan, general Police Jorge Enrique Linares; the
> >commandant of the Unit of Traffic, colonel Pedro Molano; the commandant of
> >the Tenth Third Brigade, general Reynaldo Castellanos, and the adviser for
> >the security, Hugo Steel.
> >Linares said that there are 60 control positions in the city and 40 cranes
> >will be available to move away the vehicles that obstruct the roads.
> >The objective of the advice was to review the contingency stockings that
> >had foreseen to avoid alterations of the public order in Bogotá. Troops of
> >the Army are bet around the city with the purpose of preventing that the
> >guerrilla's urban militias can infiltrates in the possible manifestations
> >that are carried out.
> >Of another side, yesterday the Defender of the Town, Eduardo Cifuentes,
> >that the taponamiento of the citizens' roads viola fundamental rights.
> >According to the Defender, to impede the normal flow of vehicles and people
> >in the city, it is an attack against the free mobilization.
> >Cifuentes said that the drivers are in all its right of protesting provided
> >they make it for the road of the I dialogue and the agreement, and not
> >through measures that affect to the rest of the society.
> >The Mayor's office announced that that of today will be an ordinary day and
> >that therefore the scheduled activities are not suspended with reason of
> >celebration of the 463 years of the capital.
> >Even, Mockus will be at 7 in the morning in a journey for TransMilenio that
> >today gives a new line of the system in the North Freeway. He/she also
> >enters in operation in Portal of Usme, in the south end of the city. The
> >stations will allow the mobilization of at least 80 thousand passengers.
> >Avoid to take the taxis or buses whose registrations finish in 1, 2, 3 and
> >4, because the surest thing is that the authorities will immobilize him and
> >you won't be able to follow their journey.
> >To avoid that he/she repeats that of last Thursday, when children's
> >thousands were caught by several hours in the blockades promoted by the
> >drivers, call to the school of their children and discover if there are
> >Limit their activities of the day, carry out alone those that it considers
> >really important.
> >Try not to traffic for the places where they concentrate the protests, as
> >downtown, for example.
> >If it can go out with their particular vehicle, ask if some neighbor or
> >relative goes for his same route and bring near it.
> >If today's journey is not very long, use bicycle or put on comfortable
> >clothes and walk.
> >Remember that TransMilenio will lend its ordinary service, starting from
> >5:30 o'clock including the new ones truncates them a.m., and park in the
> >North Freeway and the Portal of Usme.
> >In the event of an emergency, don't doubt to communicate with the Police.
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