Newly-elected president of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado arrived at the inauguration of his new parliament in capital San José this week in a hydrogen-fuelled bus flanked by a bevy of cyclists, among them, Legislative Assembly president Carolina Hidalgo.
It’s a timely signal, and a nod to the persistent work of the city’s activists for non-motorised transport.
San José recently introduced new bicycle lanes after years of campaigning by organisations like Chepecletas and recent deaths of cyclists sparking off citizen calls for more protection for cyclists and pedestrians.
And it comes just a month after the first hydrogen-powered bus rolled onto the capital city’s roads.
The leaders’ choice of wheels also seems to be part of a budding trend.
Canadian president Justin Trudeau and his team arrived at their inaugural parliamentary sitting in a bus and strolled together up Parliament Hill, breaking the usual habit of individual ministers arriving in cars.
Late last year, a photo of Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte parking and locking up his bicycle outside the royal palace of the Netherlands went viral; the PM, having formed a new government and being obligated to inform the King, decided against taking the armoured car in favour of that ubiquitous symbol of Amsterdam.
Road traffic is one of the biggest contributors to particulate, ozone and carbon dioxide air pollution in cities all over the world. Leaders who send the signal that clean transport options are the way of the future– and follow through with policies and planning– are central to cutting urban air pollution, saving lives and creating better cities for everyone.