From Bikes Not Bombs to Global Transformations

In 1984, ITDP founder Michael Replogle had a simple, but novel idea as a response to the US-led bombing campaign of Nicaragua: send bikes, not bombs*, as a form of humanitarian aid to people who desperately needed mobility, such as teachers and healthcare workers in rural areas. “We set out to organize bike clubs and churches to donate secondhand bicycles as a way of empowering ordinary American citizens who felt helpless to stop the actions of their government,” says Replogle, “and also as way to demonstrate how basic mobility can massively improve quality of life.”

The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy was incorporated the following year, and quickly grew beyond Nicaragua, to efforts to reform the transport policies of the US government and the World Bank. “Through conference sessions, publications and letter writing campaigns, our small team challenged the World Bank and other institutions to pay attention to bicycling and walking and the transport needs of the poor,” says Replogle, “Gradually, we made progress.” For details on that progress, check out the timeline for more details on that progress.

*Bikes Not Bombs, the group that launched ITDP, is now based in Boston:



ITDP started work in Los Angeles, California where climate change and air quality are moving from and center in the discussions and perspectives of the constituents. ITDP Brazil launched MobiliCAMPUS, an online educational program for Brazilian city leaders and public servants, it has been hugely successful with long waitlists and large class sizes. Fortaleza, Brazil hosted MOBILIZE which helped improve sustainable mobility in that city, and today traffic-related deaths have decreased every year. The Addis Ababa government, with the support of ITDP, announced a bold NMT strategy as a part of Ethiopia’s fight against climate change. Mexico has implemented multiple walk and bike to school days, to improve pedestrian zones and infrastructure. Transjakarta, Jakarta’s BRT continues to grow and has a ridership of over 600,000 daily.


Transjakarta, Jakarta’s BRT, breaks a ridership record of over half a million riders a day. Everett, Massachusetts pilots a BRT with ITDP’s support and guidance. ITDP published an Access or All: Access and Gender paper focusing on women in mobility, a major focus in Brazil where ITDP has emerged as a leading voice among those advocating for policies and projects that explicitly link and address gender, mobility, income, and race. In Tianjin, China ITDP began a transformative, four-year Global Environment Facility and World Bank funded project on transit-oriented development. In Brazil, ITDP added eight new indicators to its MobiliDADOS platform, an online tool with information about mobility in various Brazilian cities, which continued to be an influential and important tool for decision-makers and planners throughout Brazil. In Pune, ITDP India supported the rollout of 25 electric buses and supported the city in adopting a progressive parking policy, one of the first in India.


ITDP opened a new office in Nairobi, Kenya, to support projects throughout Africa. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, opens East Africa’s first BRT, and becomes the first African city to with the Sustainable Transport Award. The Brazilian ministry of cities adopts ITDP’s recommended “Urban Mobility Indicators” to better monitor urban mobility policies. The city of Nanning, China, opened a BRT system in partnership with ITDP and local partner GMEDRI. An ITDP-led study tour to Mexico City inspired the city of Guangzhou, China, to commit 900 Million USD for cycling, walking, and public space projects. As a result of years of advocacy by ITDP and partners, Mexico City passed a groundbreaking parking reform policy, abolishing parking minimums and establishing maximums. The policy, once enacted, is estimated to reduce up to 90 metric tons of CO2 per year, and includes a mandate to support affordable housing and public transport.


The Yichang, China, BRT wins the Asian Development Bank ADB best performing project and the Sustainable Transport Award.

In India, Chennai’s NMT policy and pedestrian projects earn the International Sustainia Award. Several cities join India’s Smart Cities initiative to invest in sustainable infrastructure for rapidly growing regions.

ITDP opens a new field office in Nairobi, continuing ITDP’s decades of work in Africa.


ITDP celebrates our 30th year advancing sustainable transport and livable cities.

ITDP is instrumental in bringing car-free days to Chennai and Coimbatore, India, and Vision Zero to Mexico City.

New ITDP-led BRT systems in Yichang, China, and Pune, India, receive regional and international acclaim.

In two critical global agreements—the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Conference—advocacy by ITDP and our partners helps cities, transportation, and people achieve unprecedented recognition.


In Brazil, Rio de Janeiro’s Transcarioca is awarded a BRT Standard gold rating. Two additional gold standard corridors open in Belo Horizonte. Rio de Janeiro opens 380 km of cycling and walking infrastructure, and Belo Horizonte makes significant progress toward its 100 km goal. São Paulo also gains an impressive 400 km of pedestrian and cycling lanes.

After years of lobbying by ITDP, Chennai adopts India’s first NMT policy, guaranteeing that 60% of the city’s transportation budget be dedicated to walking and cycling initiatives.

Lanzhou, China, launches a new bike share, complementing the city’s recently opened BRT corridor.


Buenos Aires, Argentina, expands its Metrobús BRT along the world’s widest avenue, 9 de Julio.

In Mexico City, Line 5 of the Metrobús BRT is the first corridor in the country to feature a complete street model, integrating green space, pedestrian and cycling friendly measures.

ITDP releases the first Bike-Share Planning Guide, tracking the growing bike-share trend and providing guidance for cities looking to create successful, high quality systems.


ITDP releases The BRT Standard, the first tool of its kind to clearly define the essential and evaluate BRT corridors.

Rio de Janeiro opens its first true BRT corridor, Transoeste, which scores a gold ranking on the BRT Standard.

Lanzhou, China, opens the second-highest capacity BRT in Asia, after Guangzhou.

Mexico City’s Metrobús opens its fourth corridor this year, notable for its path through the historic center.

At the Rio+20 Summit, ITDP and our partners are instrumental in securing a commitment from the eight largest multilateral development banks to direct $175 billion to sustainable transport over the next decade.


ITDP launches Our Cities Ourselves, a visionary exhibition and design program to help cities plan more sustainable transportation. Exhibitions are featured in New York City, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Ahmedabad, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, and Guangzhou.

With ITDP’s technical assistance, Buenos Aires opens its first line of Metrobús BRT, constructs more than 40 km of bike lanes, and launches a bike-share system.


In our 25th year, ITDP realizes a major goal in establishing a world-class BRT system in each region where we work.

The Guangzhou BRT launches as the first in China to integrate bicycles. It is the largest BRT system in the world by passenger volume, bus frequency, and length of stations. ITDP China is lead technical advisor to Guangzhou.

Mexico City’s Ecobici bike-share system opens as the largest in Latin America. Over the next few years, major expansions and replications follow throughout North and Latin America.


India’s first BRT system, Janmarg (in Hindi, “the people’s way”), opens in Ahmedabad. ITDP served as a lead technical adviser to the city.

The Rea Vaya BRT opens in Johannesburg, South Africa, after a two-year planning and construction process. This innovative BRT connects the township of Soweto to the central business district, becoming the first public transit system implemented since the end of apartheid.


Amidst global financial concerns, investment in public transportation holds steady. Cities around the world commit to building BRT, bike lanes, and affordable, efficient housing. Plans to add bike lanes on major roads are advanced in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Harbin, Delhi, São Paulo, and Bogotá.

Ridership on TransJakarta increases to over 120,00 riders per day, and approximately 97 kilometers (60.3 miles).


ITDP releases the first BRT Planning Guide, providing detailed support and guidance on the creation of high quality BRTs. The guide is translated into Portuguese, Spanish, and Chinese for international use.

TransJakarta opens five new lines, dramatically increasing access and ridership through the city.


ITDP begins work with Sao Paulo and Mexico city to protect their Historic Centers through pedestrianization and traffic control.

ITDP co-sponsors a conference with the National Urban Development Ministry in India, which leads to a new urban transport policy and qualifies BRT projects for government funding. This results in the approval of new BRT systems in Pune, Indore, Jaipur, and Bhopal.


Bogotá, Colombia wins the first ever Sustainable Transport Award. As TransJakarta expands, it more than triples its ridership, from an average of 30,000 passengers in its first year to nearly 100,000 by the end of 2005. ITDP research examines the link between transportation and healthcare in rural Africa.


Jakarta, Indonesia launches Asia’s first BRT system, Transjakarta, with ITDP as a key technical advisor. Implemented in an unprecedented 9 months, TransJakarta has new, enclosed stations, prepaid ticketing, high levels of security, and comfortable, air-conditioned buses, revolutionizing perceptions of bus-based travel in the country.


ITDP continues to grow, beginning BRT work in Cape Town; implementing a pilot Traffic Demand Management project in Sao Paulo; Yogyakarta, Indonesia pedestrianizes the important commercial and cultural street, Malioboro Avenue; thousands of low-cost ‘California Bikes’ are brought to Senegal, Ghana, and South Africa; and brownfield cleanup and redevelopment continues in the Czech cities of Plzen, Sternberk, Olomouc and Brno.


ITDP launches the California Bike Coalition, an initiative to bring a high quality and affordable bicycles to rural households in Africa.

ITDP grows presence in Asia, working with the cities of Guangzhou, China, and Jakarta, Indonesia, to develop BRT systems.


Building off TransMilenio’s success, ITDP sponsors and organizes workshops and presentations on Bus Rapid Transit in over 15 cities, winning support for BRT projects in many and laying the groundwork for future projects.

ITDP begins work replicating the success of the cycle rickshaw project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and implementing pedestrian projects in Guangzhou, China.


Bogota, Colombia opens the game-changing TransMilenio BRT, inspiring the spread of BRT globally, and shifts ITDP’s focus to providing technical support for BRT projects.

ITDP’s India Cycle Rickshaw Modernization Project puts more than 8000 modern cycle rickshaws on the streets of India, providing zero-emission jobs and improving transport options. Today, there are more than 600,000 of these rickshaws on India’s streets.


ITDP launches the Afribike program in South Africa, which helps distribute hundreds of bikes to poor communities and healthcare workers.

ITDP leads the Sustainable Transport Action Network for Asia and the Pacific (SUSTRAN) general assembly in Manila. This conference initiates sustainable transport campaigns in Jakarta, Manila, New Delhi, Penang, and Calcutta.


ITDP leads the effort to refocus guidelines of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) transport program, eventually opening up billions of USD for BRT and non-motorized transport projects around the world.


At the UN Habitat II conference in Istanbul, Executive Director Walter Hook challenges the World Bank’s stance on ‘Sustainable Transport’, which focused on privatization as the solution for poor quality transport, and ignored the issue of increased motorization.

Over the next 5 years, ITDP has achieved significant progress in shifting the World Bank’s Urban Transport Policy toward giving priority to non-motorized transport and improving public transit.


ITDP, along with the EPA, Friends of the Earth, and IIEC, convince the World Bank to create a formal transport policy consistent with environmental and poverty alleviation goals. ITDP establishes the ‘Laboratwa Esperance’ program in Deschapelles, Haiti, which trains locals to create and maintain bikes and other non-motorized vehicles for use in hospitals and community organizations.


ITDP establishes the Campaign for New Transportation Priorities (CNTP), a coalition of 37 environmental, labor, and citizen groups in the United States. CNTP plays a key role in passing the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA).


ITDP sends 10,000 bicycles to Nicaragua, financin a bicycle assembly industry in the nation. ITDP wins budget language in the US Congress promoting US bicycle programs, including a change from motorcycles to bicycles for Peace Corps volunteers.


The Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) is founded as an umbrella organization for several worldwide peace and development initiatives and advocacy efforts. ITDP’s largest campaign, Bikes Not Bombs, sent bicycles to health and education efforts in Nicaragua during the war with the Contra guerrillas.


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