Efrain Torres, one of Bogota’s delegates to Colombia’s House of Representatives, spoke out publicly Saturday in defense of Bogota’s bicycle taxi drivers, who he claims are victims of ongoing exploitation at the hands of the city’s various “mafias”.
“I am calling on the District [of Bogota] to, together with the Mayor’s office, regulate the bicycle-taxi service in the city and create work zones for the service,” said Torres, who also asked for resources to de directed toward helping drivers purchase their vehicles.
Currently bicycle taxi services in the Colombian capital operate on an informal, sometimes illegal, basis, allowing gangs to extort drivers and steal their profits, according to the congressman’s statement.
Formal recognition would encourage drivers to report ongoing extortion schemes, he said, while the creation of specific bicycle taxi lanes would further Bogota’s efforts to promote environmental sustainability.
Earlier this month, Mayor Gustavo Petro accepted a Global Climate and City Leadership Award on behalf of Bogota, which won in the Urban Transport category for its Transmillenio bus service and widespread bike lanes.
But the city, which announced it will be introducing South America’s first fleet of fully electronic taxis, and converting much of its bus service to hybrid or electronic vehicles, is still affected by among the highest levels of smog of any urban center in the region.
Health concerns, notoriously bad traffic and high gas prices are all ongoing motivators for District and city officials to find alternative transportation solutions for the more than 10 million residents in the greater metropolitan area.
Colombia Reports could not find any concrete statistics regarding the number of bicycle taxi drivers in the city, or the profits represented by taxi services, and the congressman Torres’ office could not be reached for comment.
Bicycle taxi drivers joined large-scale protests last year in the Colombian capital, calling for a path to formalization and regular labor rights.
- Denuncian 40 mafias que explotan a bicitaxistas en Bogota (Caracol Radio)