LAP / Latino América Pedalea (Latin America Cycles) A community of practice to support pro-cycling awareness, delivery capacity, and governance through intersectoral cooperation
As Latin American cities continue to evolve in their efforts to encourage more people to cycle through improved planning and design, authorities face challenges like weak stakeholder engagement that hinder their ability to implement cycling infrastructure. Promoting knowledge exchange and intersectoral cooperation among these cities is thus key to unlock the cycling benefits for most of the population.
LAP (LatinoAmérica Pedalea) is a community of practice that aims to foster intersectoral (government, civil society, business organizations and media) and regional cooperation among five knowledge-receiving cities in Perú, Bolivia and Ecuador and two knowledge-providing cities (Mexico City and Bogotá). During the first part of the exchange (virtual conference and workshops), the team layed out LAP's vision and offered some technical workshops. Selected representatives of the first phase participated in study tours in Mexico City (CDMX) and Bogota.
During the LAP activities, participants managed to bridge the divide between stakeholders with high motivation (civil society), political power (government) and influence (media and business), and showed how “collaboration between them can achieve important results”. The LAP representatives’ active participation that started during the study tours, continues via digital tools, and has translated into activities like webinars and forums. Overall, the LAP experience has resulted in increased knowledge and awareness, and improved national and intersectoral cooperation.
Several cities in developing countries are notably investing in creating new cycling infrastructure and modernizing the existing ones, in order to encourage people to shift to a greener mode of transport like cycling. While cycling is increasingly becoming a consolidated mode of transport in many cities in Latin America, many municipalities struggle in planning and designing coherent, safe, and connected cycling networks. Authorities that succeed in encouraging cycling will allow urban dwellers to access several social benefits: less traffic congestion, access to economic opportunities, transport affordability, social inclusion, increased public health, improved local air quality, and climate change mitigation, among others.
Promoting cycling becomes even more complex when there is weak stakeholder engagement. Thus, LAP aims to increase stakeholder engagement by evidencing the myriad of benefits that cycling represents for their sector in particular and their city in general, through knowledge exchange and intersectoral city-to-city cooperation in Latin America.
After noticing an increasing interest in developing cycling infrastructure projects among different cities in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the team identified that authorities were wary of promoting these types of initiatives because of fear of backlash by different stakeholders. Neighbor groups, media outlets and businesses were some of the influential groups that had expressed opposition to cycling projects in different cities across the region. However, the team also noticed that there was plenty of enthusiasm for active participation among certain civil society groups, some of which have effectively engaged with other groups from different sectors. It was thus clear that bridging among these different stakeholders would contribute significantly to improving the conditions under which cycling projects must be implemented.
Knowledge-providing cities: Mexico City and Bogotá.
These cities were chosen mainly because of their two decades of experience in creating cycling policies. Their processes and lessons are valuable for the rest of the region to learn from, and their experiences also show that creating robust cycling-inclusive policies must have a broad array of stakeholders that would normally not interact. Participating institutions included: Mexico City/Bogota Governments, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), the Mexican Radio Institute, Despacio, and Bicitekas.
Knowledge-recipient cities: Lima and Cusco (Peru), La Paz and Santa Cruz (Bolivia) and Quito (Ecuador)
These cities have made some efforts in developing their own cycling-inclusive policies but have encountered many challenges that have hindered their capacities to deliver ambitious initiatives.
Knowledge providers have had experience before in sharing knowledge related to developing cycling infrastructure and programs that were successful at increasing the number of people cycling. Both the Mexico City and Bogota governments receive several city delegations from around the world each year. Institutional partners such as BYCS (pronounced “bikes”), an Amsterdam-based global NGO supporting community-led urban change through cycling and ITDP have had experience in capturing transport planning and design knowledge from the Global South and sharing it with delegations from different contexts and backgrounds.
A combination of tools and types of presence:
Combining online and in-person, synchronous and asynchronous, and visual tools was a fundamental part of the work done in this project. This enabled participants to gather information from different channels and with various forms of stimulation that completed a comprehensive “all present” involvement with LAP. The following are some of the activities that were done, organized according to their type:
- Online events - LAP Virtual Conference (14-25 February 2022): A series of workshops via Zoom where pre-registered participants from the selected cities and sectors could actively participate (non-registered could watch on YouTube).
- Cycling and Gender Talk (24 June 2022): A Zoom conversation organized by LAP participants.
- Live Activities / Study Tours: Mexico City (20-24 April), Bogota (29 April- 2 May): Selected participants from the virtual conference participated in study tours to knowledge providing cities where they could witness firsthand the results of cycling-inclusive planning and design with multi sectoral support.
- World Bicycle Forum Presentation at Manizales Colombia (11 November 2022): LAP was presented as a best practice during this international event, using a discussion format that featured the LAP sectors at a local level.
- Digital Tools: Whatsapp group, Discord Server, Twitter, Instagram, PLAMOBI Website, Substack: Digital tools allow for content delivery, fluid discussions between LAP participants, organizers and the general public.
- Online active participation requires active moderation and promotion, despite the small size of the group and their tight closeness
- The technically “best” platforms are not necessarily the best for actual interaction, but rather those that are more commonly used by members of the project (in this case, Discord was not used as much as Whatsapp despite the great limitations of the latter in organizing information).
- Despite their comparatively high cost, site visits are an essential component of an effort to have meaningful engagement, and they catalyze the effectiveness of other (virtual) means of engagement;
Beneficiaries / Participants
From Lima, Peru
Planner Architect, Ministry of Transport
Research manager, National Engineering University
Cofounder, Peruanos de a pie (Civil Society)
General manager, Edubici Perú (Civil Society)
Project Manager, Edubici Perú (Civil Society)
Director of Cycling Infrastructure Maintenance, Metropolitan Municipality
Technical Analysts, Metropolitan Municipality
President of the Corporate Sustainability Commission, Lima Chamber of Commerce
Research coordinator, Universidad Ricardo Palma
Research coordinator, MOBILIS
President and Vice-President, Cicloaxion (Civil Society)
Technical advisor, GIZ
Spokesperson, Bicicommuters (Civil Society)
Technical advisor, Metropolitan Urban Transport Authority (National Government)
Technical advisor, Metropolitan Government
Project manager, ARQCA S.A.C. (Private Studio)
Research Coordinator, Cicloaxion (Civil Society)
Editor, Grupo RPP
From Cuzco, Peru
Founding Members, Biciñan (Civil Society)
Bicycle Mayor (NGO)
Circulation Submanager, Local Government
Director, Local School
Traffic Managedr, Metropolitan Municipality
From La Paz, Bolivia
Monitor, Masa Critica La Paz (Civil Society)
Members, Cyclist Movement (Civil Society)
Member, Mujeres en Bici, Masa Crítica, Independent researcher
Technical Analyst, Autonomous Government
Main Leader, Masa Crítica La Paz; Instructor Universidad Privada del Valle
Members, Masa Critica
Director, Fides Radio
Unit Director, Integrated Transport Planning Unit, Autonomous Government
From Santa Cruz, Bolivia
Member, Private Architecture Studio
Director, Bicicultura Santa Cruz (Civil Society)
Cooperation, Sustainability and Innovation Manager, Chamber of Commerce, Services and Tourism
Member, "UNIOR" Bicycle Workshops
Special projects chief, Autonomous Government
Director of Special Projects, Autonomous Government
Journalist, El Deber Journal
From Quito, Ecuador
Secretary of Mobility, City Government
Project Manager, Sustainable Transport Services, City Government
Metropolitan Director of Sustainable Modes of Transport, City Government
Analyst of Sustainable Transport Services, City Government
Quotes from Participants:
Research coordinator at Cicloaxión (NGO),Lima, Peru
“We talked to representatives from different sectors (...) to get them to understand the issues that interest us as cyclists: security, infrastructure, and facilitating inter-modality in transportation systems"
Mobility Technical Analyst Government of Santa Cruz, Bolivia
“It’s fantastic that you’re bringing us together, different kinds of people, technicians, journalists, activists, talking to all of them is enriching from every perspective”
Director of Fides Radio, La Paz, Bolivia
“Definitely communication media is a great power by which we can reach people (it’s why they’re called media) with arguments to place a key agenda, like urban cycling, at the top of their minds.”
World Bank Contribution
The World Bank played an active role throughout the knowledge exchange as a convener, trusted intermediary, technical advisor and financier. Through its team of staff and consultants, the Bank organized all the exchange activities: from the online workshops, to the several activities during the study tours.
The community that started with a virtual conference in February 2022 and consolidated during the study tours in Mexico City and Bogota, continues to collaborate with different activities and projects. Although there are subgroups that work with different intensities and scopes, there is an active discussion happening on the Whatsapp group, (see comment above about use of Discord) which is accessible to the entire cohort. LAP members can also access PLAMOBI, a complete website with information and resources for the general public. We aim to continue the knowledge exchange by promoting collaboration on the hybrid newsletter/blogging platform Susbtack as a complement to PLAMOBI.
Increased knowledge: Knowledge recipients that participated in the in-person and online activities claimed to have increased their knowledge related with cycling planning, design and implementation. Participants in the study tours that also took part in the online workshops were able to see the results of policies and strategies in action.
Increased national cooperation: Participants at the national level that had the opportunity to share the LAP experience, have identified common strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. Such recognition has inspired them to learn from each other and explore collaboration possibilities.
Increased intersectoral cooperation: Collaboration between different sectors was stalled in each of the knowledge recipient cities before the study tours. Relationships between civil society and government were often strained and based on mutual suspicion, while they were basically nonexistent with media and business organizations. Participants now understand that sector representatives may individually try their best but often face outstanding pressure that hinders their operational and institutional capacities.
Increased awareness (media and business): While civil society and government representatives had at least a basic understanding of cycling’s role in a city’s transport system, media and business representatives were unaware. After learning from successful multisectoral collaboration schemes in Mexico and Colombia, representatives from both sectors claimed to have increased their understanding of cycling’s potential in improving urban conditions and their role in unleashing it.
Institute for Transportation and Development Policy-ITDP (in-kind contribution). During the study tour to Mexico City, the exchange group visited ITDP’s Latin America office where they could learn about their work promoting sustainable and equitable transport throughout the world and the region.
BYCS (contractual services). The LAP team hired BYCS, an Amsterdam-based NGO that promotes cycling as a transformative social tool especially in the Global South, to provide communications and engagement support throughout the several phases of the knowledge exchange.
Multimodal and Logistics (MOLO) trust fund provided additional funding that allowed the team of consultants to extend the engagement activities with the LAP exchange group throughout the second half of the 2022 CY.