With technical guidance from WRI, Bogotá became the first Colombian city to implement a speed limit of 50 km/hr., saving hundreds of lives. The policy’s success inspired the National Road Safety Agency to set speed limits in all Colombian cities.

The Challenge

Globally, traffic crashes claim more than 1.3 million lives each year and are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 29. The situation is most dire in developing country cities like Bogotá, Colombia, where 500-600 people die in traffic accidents every year. The majority of these deaths — 95% — are vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists, predominately in low-income neighborhoods.

WRI’s Role

In partnership with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), WRI has worked to improve road safety in Bogotá for several years.

In 2016, WRI helped design the city’s Speed Management Program and has since worked to implement and expand it. WRI collected data on where traffic crashes occur the most, leading the city to reduce speed limits from 60 km/hr. to 50 km/hr. in an initial five arterial corridors. WRI then worked with the local government to set speed limits on other roads, collecting traffic crash data and analyzing the impact of interventions like speed cameras. WRI communicated the results of the speed management solutions to citizens, journalists and decision-makers, eventually leading the government to set a city-wide speed limit of 50 km/hr. in 2022.

The Outcome

Road segments in Bogotá with the 50 km/hr. speed limit and speed cameras had a nearly two-fold reduction in fatalities compared to the city’s other corridors. In 2020, 37 lives were saved for every 10 kilometers of arterial roads with speed limits. According to Bogotá’s Secretary of Mobility, 268 lives will be saved from 2020-2023 by reducing the speed limit.

Bogotá’s speed agenda had such impressive success that the National Road Safety Agency established a 50 km/hr. speed limit in all Colombian cities through the 2251 Julián Esteban Road Safety Law. The law has the potential to save the lives of vulnerable road users throughout Colombia’s growing cities.