In the final episode of Conversápolis, “Germany and the United Kingdom at full steam towards cycling in Colombia”, Natalia Durán —Political scientist and international cooperation expert— talks with the German Ambassador to Colombia, Peter Ptassek, and the British Ambassador to Colombia ,Colin Martin-Reynolds, about the role of international cooperation in the promotion of cycling in Colombia and the climate crisis. In this final episode, the ambassadors reflect on the city as the setting for peace through the peaceful coexistence of different players on the road.
In this context, why are Germany and the United Kingdom strategic partners in the development of sustainable mobility?
Even though these two countries have such different social and economic dynamics with regards to the Colombian context, they have taken a key role in the development of the country and the fight against climate change. Since 2016, they have been designating resources— through the C40 Cities Finance Facility— to promote Colombia’s efforts to join the global trend of urban cycling.
Mainly, the interest of these two countries relates to two main axes of their cooperation portfolios: 1) sustainable development and 2) environment. Nevertheless, in addition to these two axes and especially in the context of Colombia, the theme of “mobility” plays an important role in the peace building process
And….why is this?
Although "the bicycle is the bicycle and peace is peace", as the German ambassador points out in the episode, different means of transport exist on urban streets and it is often challenging to make them coexist. These contrasts teach us the important lesson that we must learn to coexist with differences. If we learn that cyclists are more vulnerable than those drivers of motorized vehicles and, in turn, we offer them more attention, care and respect, we will not only have taken a step towards peace as a society, but also as a city and a country.
In addition to peace related subjects, in this episode the ambassadors recall their participation in the “Congress 50/50: More women on bikes”. The ambassador of the United Kingdom highlighted the massive participation of the girls of the district program of Bogota "To school by bike" and highlights how the next generations, from a very young age, know that the bicycle is an option for sustainable mobility. This is reinforced by Laura Segura, special guest of this chapter and participant of the program who tells us how the bicycle is part of her daily life.
However, not everything is easy in generating commitment towards sustainable mobility, despite all the efforts and the implementation of actions to consolidate the bicycle as a means of transport in Colombian cities. There are important aspects on which governments should focus their efforts to enhance the use of bicycles, such as improving air quality, infrastructure, the formulation of policies and, above all, promoting culture and a change of mentality in which it must be reaffirmed that not only is bicycle mobility possible, but it can help us advance in the construction of more equitable cities, as mentioned by Natalia Durán.