Envigado, a rich municipality which neighbors Medellin, launched a campaign to promote cycling on “Car Free Day,” April 22. As part of the “Envicicleta” scheme, 150 citizens have been given a bike by the Mayor’s office in exchange for attending classes on road safety and the environment. This is Colombia’s first such scheme, following the example of Paris and its Velib’, and Santiago de Chile and its B’easy.
John Henao (on the right in the picture), who is responsible for the promotion of cycling in Envigado, told Colombia Reports that the project received strong backing from Mayor Diego Gallo, who managed to gain the support of a majority of town councilors.
This political support combined with the municipality’s good financial state allowed John Henao and his team to select 150 citizens to receive bikes designed for a safe everyday use. In order to get a bike, citizens must be more than 11 years old, and attend free classes on the importance of caring for the environment, and on the health benefits of everyday cycling.
At the end of the course, they must also pass a cycling proficiency test focused on road safety. John Henao emphasizes that, just like cars drivers, cyclists should know not only how to ride bikes, but how to behave in traffic. Their bike also has to be equipped with lights and good brakes. The idea is for the free cyclists to to promote an attitude different from the “road is a jungle” view assumed by many bike riders.