7th of September – The National Pedestrian and Cyclist Day in Bolivia

This morning I did my best to have lunch in La Cueva del Sur (a good restaurant in Calacoto. I drew a Google map on my note-book and … I got lost!

At the moment I left home I realised that today was the National Pedestrian and Cyclist Day in Bolivia. At the same time that it was surprising to see all the roads and highways without a single car, it was great to discover people using their bikes, skateboards, skates and electric and pedal cars. The city was silent and the roads were full of people from all ages, walking on and jogging all over the place. Many were also walking their dogs.

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It was impressive to see the activities organised by groups of younger people. Down the hill or up the hill (keep in mind La Paz and its terrible slopes everywhere!) you had groups of bikes, others were doing their skateboarding, and many others had their simple skates. It was great to see how they used the slopes to get speed.

It was quite special to see two and three years old driving their mechanical (pedals) or electrical (really!) cars on the roads. One of my most astonishing experiences was when the owner tried to get hold of Rocky. I was just walking, when someone started to shout “Rocky come here !”, but Rocky (kind of Australian terrier)  had discovered the magic of running down the hill. The owner couldn’t follow Rocky and the police had to intervene to stop the dog.

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La Luna está más lejos que tú … y la veo todas las noches 

It was good to see that most of the presidential candidates stopped their campaigning work, which becomes quite intensive as elections are getting closer. I could only see one of the candidates (Samuel Doria Medina) walking the streets with a group of fans. His group was smaller than any of the groups using skateboards, skates or bikes.

The Pedestrian Days have been celebrated in different municipalities in Bolivia since 2011. Though it is an instrument to decrease pollution in the urban centres, I find that having these days once a year has a very little impact. I was remembering Bogotá, perhaps the first city in the world to start with these activities every Sunday since 1976. We all discovered the magic of being the owners of the public space.

Now it is 18:00 and I can hear the cars. They are coming back!

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