Walking In Bogotá

I recently visited Bogotá. Besides being affected by the height for the duration of my stay, I was struck by a few things, like the high amount of trees, dogs, and bikes (which I don’t get to enjoy back home).

The thing that struck the hardest, though, was how comfortable it felt to walk in the city. There were sidewalks everywhere, there was ample shade, there were many parks — a very interesting mixed land use of public park and commercial space — but part of the safety I felt I think was due to traffic lights, so I paid attention to them.

Red means red. Turning right on red is forbidden by default, and there was a dedicated “turn right” light which changed independently of the “go forward” light — I’d never seen this anywhere else I’ve been.

The timing for the lights was nicely tuned, too, with the pedestrian lights having different affordances than vehicle lights: when the green light was on for pedestrians, cars were guaranteed to be stopped, and not starting anytime soon.

One last thing about traffic lights caught my attention: when the lights were going to turn green for cars, they first turned red and yellow at the same time. I don’t know why this is, but in a city where most cars have manual transmission is a good moment to get the vehicle into gear and start at the right moment.

Bogotá’s the best city to walk I’ve ever visited.