Every Sunday, Bogota, Colombia bans cars from 75 miles of city roads, and more than 1.5 million people take to the streets . . . on foot and on bikes.

Car-free day in Bogota
Bogota’s Ciclovía at Avenida Chile (photo credit: Wikipedia).

The program is called Ciclovía and has been happening in Bogota for over 35 years. It began when the city wanted to build more parks, but didn’t have the room or money for them. Now, the roads are used as public spaces, and people can walk, bike, or participate in activities such as yoga and dance classes without fear of being hit by a car.

Gil Penalosa is chair of “8 80 Cities”, a nonprofit that promotes walking and biking. He says encouraging people to hit the streets without a car has benefited Bogota in more ways than one.

Gil Penalosa
Gil Penalosa

PENALOSA: “It’s good for the quality of the air, it’s good for the noise, it’s good in many, many ways.”

Aside from reducing global-warming pollution, Ciclovía improves the physical, mental, and social health of Bogota’s people.

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As cities around the work to build community and slow global warming, a growing number are making their streets friendlier to people, not just cars. And Bogota’s Ciclovía tradition is catching on . . . with events held everywhere from the U.S. to Belgium and Australia.

Reporting credit: Lauren Smith/ChavoBart Digital Media.

More Resources
880cities website
Open Streets
7 Cities Worldwide That are Starting to Go Car Free
Mexico City’s Car-Free Sundays are Catalyst for Change
WHO Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database
More than 6 Million Could Die Early from Air Pollution Every Year

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...