In Bogotá, 1.5 million children face arduous, hours-long commutes to and from school, usually in vehicles ill-suited for kids. The time spent on the bus does nothing to enrich their education, and does not make the city seem like a welcoming place for children. Even for those who commute via bicycle or on foot, the perception of aggression in the streets and the long distances to and from school prevent the journey from being a positive experience.
The city will create a twice-daily “Children’s Hour,” which will use transportation solutions like school-bus only lanes, new pedestrian zones and bicycle-sharing to shorten the commute and to improve the experience while commuting. City leaders will also challenge the community to use this time each day to celebrate children and share Bogotá’s story with them. To encourage community involvement, the city will use technological tools to “gamify” participation by providing incentives and rewards for citizen engagement. This approach turns the problem into part of the solution by using existing city resources and spaces to turn long commutes into positive journeys.
This holistic approach to children’s commuting experiences came from a desire to not only make the commuting process itself better, but also to highlight the role of children in society and encourage citizens to invest in their wellbeing. When city residents are directly responsible for improving the children’s commute, children gain the autonomy that comes with improved mobility and benefit from the security that a stronger community network provides. Citizens, in turn, are more likely to feel connected to, and invested in, their daily lives in the city.
Words from Bogotá
“In addition to the benefits in mobility, the Children’s Hour will have positive impacts in terms of cohabitation and relationships between different groups of citizens. The contests and activities dedicated to children will generate a culture that gives priority to the care and attention to the most vulnerable. The effects of this cultural change will be tangible not only for children, but for all citizens in general.”