Road.cc’s story about a mandatory bicycle law in Bolivia’s fourth largest city is making the rounds in various social media forums after this Spanish language editorial landed on Reddit.
The gist of the editorial: Councillor Beatriz Zegarra for the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia introduced a proposal to mandate bicycle use at least one day per week for city residents to reduce pollution and preserve the Corazón de la Madre Tierra. Zegarra’s proposal has gone through the city’s urban development committee (“Comision Segundo“) and apparently moves on for full council consideration sometime soon, although it’s not on the agenda for tonight’s city council agenda.
I can’t find information about this bill on the official city website, so I don’t know the actual text of the bill. The “news” repeated from road.cc comes from an editorial. I don’t hablo espanol too well and I’d be really surprised if Google Translate can catch Bolivian idioms, so I’m sure we’re missing out on nuances in the Spanish language editorial. Does obligar really mean “force” in Bolivian Spanish? Did the opinion writer purposefully select a misleading and perhaps emotionally charged word that might not exist in the actual bill presented to city council?
It’s perhaps important also to consider this bill in the context of the city’s recent politics. People have been taking to the streets by the hundreds to protest parliamentary redistricting. Because these general strikes have brought the entire transit system to a standstill, cycling and walking are the only way to get around the city.
Is Zegarra’s bill related to these larger political trends in Bolivia? Will it actually mandate an unenforceable weekly bike trip? Or is the editorial author just yanking some chains by radicalizing the language of a more moderate proposal that seeks to encourage bike usage in the city of Cochabamba?