Random thoughts and observations of an itinerant cyclist


As a year-round bike commuter at UHN who also travels widely, I am fortunate to be able to sample the local cycling culture in these distant locales.  Recently Lisa Vanlint asked me to contribute to this forum by sharing some of my world-wide cycling experiences.  I am happy to do so.  To wit, I was in Medellin, Colombia last week giving some lectures (Medellin?!  Yes, think drug cartels, Pablo Escobar, cocaine capital of the world…  but those heady 1990s gangster days are mostly behind them:)


For some context — Medellin (pronounced Me-de-dj-in) is a relative large (GTA-sized) city in the Andes, located in a picturesque valley with steep hills / mountains on both sides.  In terms of public transport, it has a surprisingly nice above-ground Metro that is widely used.  Most lines runs along the valley, but there are a couple of gondola-based “Metro-Cable” lines that head perpendicularly up the slopes into the poorer neighbourhoods on the mountainsides. Very nice!


In terms of cycling, Medellin is actually reasonably advanced.  It has a bike-share city program and some bike lanes.  The latter are not too extensive, and are often quite challenging to navigate in the car-dominant urban environment (think GTA?!:), but at least there are some!  Further, it is not clear who has the right of way when a bike lane crosses a street — there are not many 4-way stops in Medellin — so by default cars seem to dominate.  And I could not find a city cycling map to know exactly where these lanes are, even though I checked in 3-4 bike shops…  But overall, I was still impressed that people actually bike in this populous South American city!  In fact, some locals say cycling is Colombia’s national sport #2 (though a distant second after football/soccer:)



Alex and Lisa during Bike to Work Day in the GTA. You can tell by the sunshine and warmth, it’s not a recent photo.

P.S. from the editor … though cycling is our favorite kind of clean air commute, can you answer 3 questions about electric vehicles? Thanks!