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Support for Bogotá Referendum - Urgent!

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  • ecopl@n.adsl
    Dear Colleagues, I hope that you will forgive me for placing this before you at the very last minute, but I have been out of communication for the last weeks
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2000
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      Dear Colleagues,

      I hope that you will forgive me for placing this before you at the very last
      minute, but I have been out of communication for the last weeks due to an
      illness and death in my family. But life goes on, time presses, and those
      of us who are dedicated to the inextricably intertwined, ever pressing
      issues of sustainability and social justice have plenty of work cut out for
      us. Here is the situation in brief:

      On Sunday, the 29th of October, two questions are being submitted to the
      citizens that comprise the electoral census of Bogotá, covering issues which
      in my view are critical to the future well-being of the city and its
      inhabitants. The first of these asks for citizen views and support
      concerning institutionalization of the annual Car Free Day, in the wake of
      this year's highly successful venture which many of you were so kind as to
      publicly support. The second, much more daring, asks for their support for
      a proposal to ban ALL private car traffic in the city beginning in the year
      2015. (This second proposition only makes sense if you are aware that the
      idea is to build cumulatively over the next 15 years on the achievements of
      their existing ingenious and successful car restriction program, Pico y
      Placa, concerning which you can find further background in the Bogotá
      section of the @World Car Free Day site at http://ecoplan.org/carfreeday/.)

      The full Spanish language version of the popular proposal can be found on
      the Web at http://www.terra.com.co/proyectos/bogotasincarros/, together with
      additional background material and a spot poll of visitor views. (A number
      of existing sites also are reporting on this, including:
      http://www.electorales.com, http://www.uol.com.co,
      http://www.co.starmedia.com, http://www.chibchombia.com,
      http://www.calle22.com, http://www.paisweb.com, and http://www.lalupa.com.)
      A quick translation of the Referendum text is annexed to this note.

      In this terribly tight time frame, here is what we are asking of you. First
      and if you agree, will you provide a public indication of your support of
      this important sustainability initiative? This would ideally take the form
      of a short email with a few lines of comments, rounded out by your name,
      title, etc., with as much immodesty and effusion as these unusual
      circumstances merit. This letter of support should be addressed to Bogotá
      City Hall at consnacion@..., and copied to us here at
      Referendum@.... Our friends in Bogotá will then make industrious
      use of these support letters over the next three days to show all those
      concerned that this is not simply an isolated local initiative of perhaps
      dubious merit, but a central issue and opportunity for this embattled city
      to make a contribution in the world sustainability arena. For our part we
      shall be working hard from here to support them in this.

      Second and last, they also are looking for volunteers to discuss these
      matters with the local media. They have already carried out radio
      interviews with several of our colleagues, and of course for this one does
      need to be comfortable working in Spanish.

      There you have it. One more example of thinking (and collaborating)
      globally, while acting locally. If this note catches you in time, I am sure
      that you are going to want to join us in supporting this citizen initiative
      at 2600 meters and ever so many kilometers away, in this embattled Third
      World city that is trying not only to deal with its own crushing problems of
      environment, life quality and social justice, but also, if we think about,
      to lead the way for us all.

      As our old labor union friends put it so well,

      In Solidarity,

      Eric Britton

      ecopl@n ___ technology, economy, society ___
      Le Frene, 8/10 rue Joseph Bara, 75006 Paris, France
      Eric.Britton@... URL www.ecoplan.org
      Telephone +331 4326 1323
      Voice/Videoconference +331.4441.6340 (1-4)
      Fax + Voicemail: +1 888 522 6419 (toll free)


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      BOGOTÁ'S REFERENDUM IN BRIEF

      The City of Bogotá is to hold a referendum on October 29, 2000 proposing a
      ban on car use during peak hours beginning January 1st, 2015. Should the
      people of Bogotá vote favorably on this issue, cars would be banned from
      using any city street from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. until
      7:30 p.m. during weekdays. The referendum also includes a proposal about
      establishing the celebration of a Car Free Day once a year, as of the year
      2001, every first Thursday of February in Bogotá. Car circulation would be
      prohibited on this day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

      Bogotá, a 6.5 million inhabitants city, whose population is growing 160,000
      per year, has a low motorization rate, with only 120 cars per 1,000 people.
      More than 80% of the population uses a low-quality bus system. The present
      city administration is structuring a very modern bus system based on
      exclusive busways which should reach all points in the city by the year
      2015. The current administration has also promoted cycle use which has grown
      from 0,5% to nearly 4% in the last two years. A bicycle path network of more
      than 200 kilometers is under construction and should be in operation by the
      beginning of the year 2001.

      Bogotá at 2,600 meters of altitude, thus with a low oxygen content in the
      air, needs all the clean air it can get. Despite the as-yet low number of
      private cars, the city already evidences severe air pollution problems,
      which should get worse once Colombia gets over the economic recession which
      it is currently going through and car sales pick up.

      Bogotá has some unusual conditions and traditions, which makes it possible
      for the city to become the first in the world to solve its mobility problems
      based on a total restriction of car use. The city enjoys a 15 ºC (57 ºF)
      temperature year round, which makes it easy to walk a few blocks to a bus
      stop or to ride a bike a few kilometers. It has a high population density at
      210 inhabitants per hectare and the average distance of 8 kilometers for
      home-to-work or study trips is rather short. The city already restricts car
      use at peak hours, effectively taking out of circulation 35% of cars every
      day through a system based on the last digit of the car license plate. For
      the last three years every Sunday the city closes 110 kilometers of main
      arteries to all auto traffic during 7 hours, so that more than one and half
      million people can use this public space for recreational purposes, mainly
      for bicycles. Bogotá also held the most successful car free day in the world
      last February 24 in which the city functioned normally without any cars on
      the streets except for taxis.

      Beyond the transportation and environmental reasons to carry out the
      proposal, Mayor Enrique Peñalosa emphasizes its social integration
      implications. In a city with severe income inequalities and geographical
      segregation between poor and rich neighborhoods, the new system will seat
      together in buses high-level managers and shanty town dwellers and have them
      stand next to each other at traffic lights on their bikes, not separated by
      the window of a luxury car.

      City authorities believe that discussion on the issue will raise awareness
      about the type of city people want for their children.


      TEXT BEING SUBMITTED TO THE DECISION OF THE CITIZENS OF BOGOTÁ


      I. "CAR FREE DAY"

      QUESTION: Do you agree (YES or NO) with establishing the celebration of an
      annual "Day without Cars" beginning the year 2001, which will prohibit all
      private car traffic in the city on the first Thursday of the month of
      February of every year during the period between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

      (The following vehicles will be excluded from the above prohibition: public
      transport vehicles, equipped vehicles for disabled citizens, emergency
      vehicles (ambulances, firemen), properly authorized student transport
      services, special transportation services like wage-earning drivers who
      mobilize more than 10 passengers, vehicles delivering services for public
      companies, vehicles destined to traffic control and cranes of the
      secretariat of transit and transportation, presidential caravan, military
      vehicles and police, vehicles assigned to diplomatic core, vehicles with a 3
      level shield or superior, vehicles destined to be escorts, funeral float,
      motorcycles, motorcars and bicycle taxis.)

      YES NO BLANK VOTE


      II. "VEHICULAR RESTRICTION BEGINNING THE YEAR 2015"

      QUESTION: Do you agree (YES or NO) with the objective of building an
      environmentally sustainable Bogotá, with cleaner air, less traffic
      congestion and a better quality of life, by prohibiting, starting January 1
      of the year 2015, the circulation of all private automotive vehicles on the
      city streets on all work days, in the period between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00
      a.m., and 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


      (The following vehicles will be excluded from the above prohibition: public
      transport vehicles, equipped vehicles for disabled citizens, emergency
      vehicles (ambulances, firemen), properly authorized student transport
      services, special transportation services like wage-earning drivers who
      mobilize more than 10 passengers, vehicles delivering services for public
      companies, vehicles destined to traffic control and cranes of the
      secretariat of transit and transportation, presidential caravan, military
      vehicles and police, vehicles assigned to diplomatic core, vehicles with a 3
      level shield or superior, vehicles destined to be escorts, funeral float,
      motorcycles, motorcars and bicycle taxis?)

      YES NO BLANK VOTE
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