Every year on a Sunday in September, Bolivia hosts “Pedestrian’s Day” to bring attention to environmental issues, specifically our dependence on burning fossil fuels for transportation. The government outlaws all use of motorized transport (except for those with a special permit and the teleferico) between midnight and 6 p.m.
For a tourist visiting La Paz it’s a really good day to go sightseeing. The most common (and justified) complaints from visitors are the noise, crowds and pollution caused by excessive traffic in the city center. Most tourist attractions in the center are within walking distance of each other, so it really is a good time to get out and see the city.
In residential areas, everyone takes the opportunity to go cycling, rollerblading or billy carting on the empty streets. It amazes me how many people actually own bikes because you never see them the other 364 days of the year.
This is probably because La Paz is a very hilly city with no bike paths which makes cycling impracticable. Drivers are also pretty reckless so parents would be too scared to let their children go for a ride on any other day. The amusing part of the spectacle is that kids here have little to no idea how to ride a bike, given they only get one day of practice per year. Crashes and emergency maneuvers are an all too common sight.