Biking in Bogotá: The Ciclovía, Rentals, and More

A wide city street being enjoyed by families and cyclists in Bogotá.

The Ciclovía opens up miles of Bogotá’s streets to joggers and cyclists. Photo © Saúl Ortega, licensed Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike.

Travel map of Bogotá, Colombia.

Bogotá

The Ciclovía is one of the best things about Bogotá. No wonder it has been copied in cities around the world—from all across Colombia to New York to Brussels. Every Sunday and on holidays (two times at night, even) about 121 kilometers of Bogotá streets are closed to vehicular traffic so that cyclists, joggers, dog walkers, skaters, and people-watchers can claim the streets. The Ciclovía started small in the 1970s as a neighborhood initiative. Today it is an institution, and really one of the few spaces in which people of all classes in Bogotá mix. On particularly sunny days, over two million people have been estimated to have participated in the Ciclovía. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of Houston, Texas, out on a bike! Always be prepared for sun, cold, and rain.

While popular with joggers and others, it may be more enjoyable on a bike, especially because you can cover a lot more of the city pedaling rather than walking. The Ciclovía on the Avenida Séptima and on the Carrera 15 are two of the most popular routes, but those are just a fraction of the possibilities. You can go for miles and miles. In fact, this may be a chance to explore parts of the city that you would have never considered before.

There is no need to take a guided group tour, as the Ciclovía is easy to figure out. If you ever get lost, you can always ask the helpful Ciclovía staff, patrolling the routes. Or just ask one of the hundreds of thousands of others out for some fresh air which way to go. Bring money with you so you can grab a freshly squeezed orange juice along the way. Bike repair stations are located on all routes. Keep an eye on the time, as you don’t want to be far from your hotel when the cars come roaring back at the strike of 2pm.

Ciclopaseo de los Miércoles

Fast becoming an in-the-know institution is this group of over a hundred cyclists of all ages and abilities that gets together every other Wednesday night for a nighttime ride along the ciclorutas (bike paths) and streets of Bogotá. The Ciclopaseo de los Miércoles has been going strong for about seven years. The group meets at bike shop Welcome (Cl. 96 No. 10-57, tel. 1/256-0915) at 7pm. Find out about the next ride on Twitter (@elciclopaseo) or on Facebook. There is no charge.

Bike Rentals

Many bike shops have begun to rent bikes specifically for the Ciclovía. Try Pure Bike Shop (Cra. 13 No. 78-47, tel. 1/476-5058, daily rental COP$45,000), Eco Byke (cell tel. 311/519-2332), or Bogotá Bike Tours (Cra. 3 No. 12-72, tel. 1/281-9924). Many shops offer group bike tours.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Colombia.

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