ENCICLA - sustainable mobility program

Metropolitan Area of Aburrá Valley, Colombia

EnCicla is a public bicycle system providing sustainable mobility to the residents of the Valley of Aburrá.

EnCicla is the public bicycle system operating in the Valley of Aburrá and is part of the integrated system of transport "SITVA", that promotes transport with social, economic and sustainable impact.

EnCicla currently has 51 stations (32 automatic and 19 manual), with a fleet of 1,300 bicycles, designed in Colombia. The system has more than 58,000 active users and an average of 10,000 loans daily. EnCicla is free of charge and operates Monday to Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The EnCicla system aims to encourage the use of bicycles as a viable transportation option and provide long-term sustainable mobility that will enhance the quality of life for citizens.


City information
Metropolitan Area of Aburrá Valley

Size and population development
The Aburrá Valley is the natural basin of the Medellín River and one of the most populated valleys of Colombia and the Andean Region. It occupies an area of ​​1157 km2, with a population of 3,821,797 inhabitants.

Population composition
The Aburrá Valley concentrates 58% of the Antioquia´s Department population.

Main functions
In 1980, the Aburrá Valley was the first Metropolitan Area created in Colombia. It was established to bring economic integration and urban development planning to the 10 municipalities. The institution is the urban environmental and metropolitan public transport authority, and coordinates the strategic planning of the territory.

Main industries / business
Medellín, the largest city in the Aburrá Valley and the capital of the department of Antioquia, is the main economic center for the region and has different government agencies and corporate offices. The department represents 12% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country. It is projected as Latin American capital of innovation.

Sources for city budget
The main income base of the 10 municipalities is the taxation for industrial, commercial and housing occupation in the territory.

Political structure
The Metropolitan Board is composed by the mayors from the 10 member municipalities, a representative of the non-profit entities, a representative of the Medellin council, one of the 9 municipal councils outside of Medellín, a representative of the Ministry of the Interior and the Director of the Metropolitan Area of ​​the Aburrá Valley. Every four years there is a popular election of mayors and local legislative bodies.

Administrative structure
The Metropolitan Area of ​​the Aburrá Valley is an administrative entity under public law, composed of 10 municipalities: Medellín, Barbosa, Girardota, Copacabana, Bello, Envigado, Itagüí, La Estrella, Sabaneta and Caldas.

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Background and objectives

EnCicla was created in 2010 as a graduation project by three product design engineering students from a University in Medellín.  In 2011, the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Aburrá adopted EnCicla as a transport program and ran a pilot in Medellin with 6 stations and 105 bicycles. EnCicla demonstrates the positive outcomes that can be achieved when public agencies collaborate with universities to facilitate ideas and projects.

The project is administered by the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley, via the planning authority for metropolitan mass transport and THE environment. The Master Plan (PMB2030) incorporates guidelines for the expansion of the bicycle system to include all municipalities of the Valley of Aburrá. The planning authority is also responsible for the growth of cycle infrastructure and the implementation of strategies for the promotion and public awareness of sustainable mobility and the proper use of bicycles as a means of transport.

Key objectives of the Master Plan are:

  • achieve 10% of the total number of journeys carried out in the Aburrá Valley by bicycle
  • expand the Encicla system to 150 stations by 2019
  • establish the Encicla system in all municipalities of the Valley of Aburrá
  • develop and implement strategies of advocacy and education that will facilitate a cultural transformation in transport for the city.

The EnCicla public bicycle system will be implemented in the 10 municipalities in the Valley of Aburrá Valley. Currently, the system is available in Medellin (largest municipality) and Sabaneta, and is in t planning stages in the other 8 municipalities.

The EnCicla system includes both manual and automatic stations. In the case of manual stations there are staff to facilitate loans to bicycle users, and in automatic stations, the user makes the loan and return of the bicycle autonomously through the totem in the station.

To use EnCicla, a pre-registration must be completed at www.encicla.gov.co where the following documents should be attached: type document photograph, identification document (both sides), custom CIVICA card and a copy of your last public services account. Once the data is verified and approved, the user can go to a customer service centre to activate the chip that is inside your card, Civica.

During 6 years of operation, EnCicla has had approximately 58,000 active users (76% male and 24% female) who have travelled a distance in kilometers, that is equivalent to 400 round-the-world tours. Initially, 73% of the users were students, however, with the expansion of EnCicla to the downtown area, the user's profile has changed to include workers, and other members of the general public who now represent 42% of users of the system. This demonstrates that bicycle transportation is not only a viable option for students and young people, but also for professionals an older people.

Financing and resources

EnCicla public bicycle system  is funded by the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Aburrá, through the resources associated with the environmental surcharge.

Results and impacts
  • Clean mobility policies have been generated to mitigate the negative impacts that cars have on air quality and generate public awareness.  For example, according to measurement indicators, when a citizen moves in car, it emits between 220 and 250 grams of dioxide of carbon into the atmosphere per kilometer travelled, while biking, it emits 16 grams in the same distance.
  • The collaboration with the business sector and academics has enabled the expansion of the system to attract users of both public bicycle and private bicycle. Universities (public and private) agree to the objectives of the programme and to promote mobility with the installation of bike racks for particular bike users. Also, some businesses in the private sector have provided incentives for employees using bicycles as a means of transport.
  • EnCicla has intergrated with SITVA by locating bicycles stations nearby Metroplus, tranvía and Metro stations, and has technological integration with card Civica for the Medellín metro, which allows the user to use a unique means of identification to move in all the integrated transport of the Valley of Aburrá, SITVA.
Barriers and challenges

According to the 2012 household survey of origin and destination in the Aburrá Valley, 5.6 million travel journeys are made daily, 74% are motorized and 26% are non-motorized. Motorized trips are distributed in: private (35%), groups (39%), mass (12%), individual (10%) and other (4%). There is evidence that 86% of trips are to, from or within Medellín. At the same time, 68% of the total number of trips are to go to work (44%) school (24%), followed by shopping (4%), health (4%), recreation (3%), inquiries (8%) and other (13%).

Communities of El Poblado, laureles, and Belen makeup 44% OF THE cars on the road and if you include Envigado, 57% of cars in Valley of Aburrá are located in less than 20% of the population of the region. Additionaly, the increase in vehicles shows an increase in travel time created by traffic congestion. In 2005 the average Journey time was 25 minutes and in 2012 it was 33 minutes, which means an increase of 30%. 75% of those trips are to the city of Medellin, and mainly, the center of that city.

As well as the increase in journey times and traffic congestion, other negative impacts of automobile travels are evident in the increase in pollutant emissions, health related issues, and stress.

Currently, there are approximately 4.2 million tons of CO2 per year generated in the Aburrá Valley, of which 70% correspond to motorized transport of people and goods, making this the sector with the laargest pollutant emissions to the atmosphere in the Aburrá Valley. If this continues, the projections for the year 2030 estimate a generation of 8.4 million tons of CO2, and the transport sector would contribute 74.6%. It has been estimated that the economic costs of the externalities caused by the air pollution, time lost in traffic congestion and accidents are equivalent to 3.8% of the gross domestic product of the region.

Lessons learned and transferability

Technically, there are optimum conditions for the implementation of a system of public bicycles: descent, mixed land uses, connection with mass transportation system, cycle- infrastructure areas of calm traffic, population of the territory, among others. In the case of an area not being suitable, efforts can focus on the improvement of existing infrastructure: cycle routes, bike racks and promotional campaigns.

It has been proven in corridors such as San Juan (the first secure corridor for pedestrians and cyclists between the east and west side of the city) that with safe and inclusive infrastructure the level of participation of EnCicla can increase up to 1000%. Therefore, if we expand EnCicla to the remaining 8 municipalities and consolidate the existing network in Medellin, we can increase the number of trips both in public and personal bicycles.

External links / documents