The Colombian capital Bogotá uses unusual means to fight the corona pandemic. As of this week, according to a report, the “San Diego Union Tribune“Cyclists use a separate lane on many main roads. But the virus is far from being the only problem for the residents.
Mayor Claudia López said her city is currently exposed to a “triple threat”: poor air quality, seasonal respiratory diseases and now the coronavirus has been added. “We cannot withstand this pressure,” López told residents in a video posted on Twitter. In addition, the urban bus service TransMilenio is chronically overloaded.
As a result, the city opened 117 kilometers of main road for cycling and hopes that many people will switch to bicycles. The measure is designed to prevent people from being crowded on the buses and thereby becoming infected with the virus. Bogota previously had a relatively large network of cycle paths approximately 550 kilometers long.
On the first day, the number of TransMilenio users had dropped by 23 percent, according to the mayor’s office. This is also due to the fact that the government asked people to stay at home.
Bogota relies heavily on public transport: According to government information, 85 percent of the city with around 7.7 million inhabitants are on foot, by bike or by bus. Nevertheless, the city regularly has to deal with smog problems. According to López, an estimated 2,000 people die from respiratory diseases in Bogota each year.
As in many countries in Latin America, the Colombian health system is already overloaded and faces major challenges. Sufficient hospital beds, respiratory masks and medical personnel must be available to cope with a sudden influx of corona patients.