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.
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.