In Bogotá, 1.5 million children face arduous, hours-long commutes to and from school (usually in vehicles not equipped for kids). The time spent on the bus doesn’t enrich the childrens’ education nor does it strengthen their connection to the city. Children who commute to school by bicycle or on foot are susceptible to vulnerable to unsafe conditions on the streets.
The city will create multiple transport solutions to shorten kids’ commute and improve their experience while commuting. For children traveling by bus, the city will create a “Children’s Hour,” with school bus-only lanes in key areas throughout Bogotá . The city’s bike share program will be expanded, and pedestrian programs will be organized so kids can walk safely to schools. All programs will include an educational component, designed to use the commute time as an opportunity to undertake fun learning activities.
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 improve kids’ commutes, but also to highlight the role of children in society and encourage citizens to invest in their wellbeing.
A school bus-only lane pilot program has already cut commute times by an average of 10 minutes for 16,000 students, and the bike share pilot has reached nearly 800 students. The city is now planning to expand both programs and launch pedestrian and educational experiences pilot programs by the end of 2017.
“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.”