Inspiration from Bogotá, Columbia

11 May

Policy makers around the world have been paying a lot of attention to the transport changes that have taken place in Bogotá, Columbia over the past decade or so, many of which were initiated by their remarkable Mayor from 1998-2001, Enrique Peñalosa who managed to reorient the city away from the car and towards public transport, cycling and walking. Here are some my favorite quotes from the man:

  • “Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for all people.”
  • “We need to walk, just as birds need to fly. We need to be around other people. We need beauty. We need contact with nature. And most of all, we need not to be excluded. We need to feel some sort of equality.”
  • “A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car.”
  • “If we’re going to talk about transport, I would say that the great city is not the one that has highways, but one where a child on a tricycle or bicycle can go safely everywhere.”
  • “One symbol of lack of democracy is to have cars parked on the sidewalk.”

And here he is explaining what he did and why:

This Streetfilm documentary explains how the bike free days work:

And this piece from the New York Times explains their clever bus rapid transit system work:

Simple really, almost child’s play, but it seems to be far out of reach for ‘developed’ countries. What exactly do we mean by the word ‘developed’ I wonder? I am reminded of how Gandhi  responded when asked what he though about ‘Western Civilisation’, saying that he thought that ‘it would be a good idea’.

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