Beautiful Bogota or How I Came to Love the Smog

smoggy bus

smoggy bus

Something has to give in beautiful Bogota. The smog in this city now borders on the ludicrously dangerous. I have not looked for statistics on cases of juvenile asthma or other respiratory conditions, I’ll leave that to the experts in the Secretary of Health, but I bet numbers are sky-rocketing. Much is made of the pollution in the Chilean capital of Santiago, and it is particularly dreadful when the smog is becomes trapped by an inbound pacific wind that comes up against the two cordilleras. There is no escape. Bogota is not dissimilar, but, unlike Santiago, there does not seem to be a pollution action plan.

While new modes of transport have been put into play such as the Transmilenio bendy bus system, in an incredibly shortsighted (corrupt) move, it was designed with fossil fuels in mind as opposed to renewable or non-polluting fuels.

Bicycles have been touted as a solution, but this is minimal at best. Bike lanes – for which the city is lauded – are in poor repair, compete with pedestrians in the same areas and are continually blocked by vendors, walkers and parked vehicles.

Air Pollution in Bogota

Air Pollution in Bogota

So, for now, Bogotanos content themselves with superficial measures like the once yearly “car free day” and politicians glibly self-congratulate on how much air pollution levels have dropped.

Today was another glorious high altitude morning in Bogota. Looking out of my apartment window over the Carrera Septima and on to the Cerros Orientales, I knew it was going to be a productive day. I  mean, this view is inspiring.  Coffee down, I accompanied my wife to the Transmilenio stop on the Avenida Caracas and Calle 63. Looking west, the pollution on this crisp cleat day was frightening. Visible, thick and menacing, I couldn’t wait to get away and return my gaze back to the mountains.

5 thoughts on “Beautiful Bogota or How I Came to Love the Smog

  • Completely agree with you. Look how beautiful Bogota is in your photographs… well, how beautiful it would be without that ugly, black cloud on the horizon. New clean hop-on-hop-off buses and tougher restrictions on cars being used solely within the city and we may get somewhere…

    • Something needs to be done before we all choke on this solid contamination. Bogota is a progressive city in its planning, but, there needs to be an evolution of thought that is also connected to altruism and action!

  • Likewise – couldn't agree with you more. There is nothing worse than cycling along, passing a bus and have a plume of black smoke coughed into you. The altitude makes it even more worse given the ratio of pollution to air. One idea I have heard mooted is to make an urban shame sticker campaign – stickering polluting buses as though they were a packet of cigarrettes.

  • Nothing prepared me for poor quality of air in Bogota. Travelers beware, while the city is beautiful, the people kind and open, and the food wonderful; the air is filthy and will definitely interfere with the enjoyment of your travels here. But Bogota is not to be missed, so bring allergy meds, tissue, and even masks and limit your time in the city to 1-3 days.

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