Warm Embracing of Bicycle Culture Key to Metropolitan Livability Standards
Posted Aug 27 2008 8:15am
From Intolerable to Idyllic
Dr. Enrique Peñalosa was Mayor of Bogotá, Columbia from 1998 through 2001. He
inherited a city in crisis. Entire sections of his 8-million-strong metropolis
were considered off-limits by families because of smog and sky-high crime rates.
Quality of life in Bogotá essentially had ground to a halt.
Mayor Peñalosa realized that a new approach was the only way to go. He knew that
automobiles were facilitating suffocating rates of smog, drive-by shootings and
kidnappings. Cars, while important, of course, had become the enemy of his once
His solution? Dr. Enrique Peñalosa pondered the early success of Bogotá and
other Latin American cities before the mass-production automobile. Then, he
closed his eyes and envisioned Bogotá as a pedestrian paradise.
Today, this ancient city has reduced its crime rate significantly and added to
its streets hundreds of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who used to feel
forced to choose between driving and self-imposed confinement. How was this
accomplished? Mayor Peñalosa realized that he needed a grand vision, one of a
car-free city. Even though such a position would be impractical and rejected by
many citizens and members of the business community, Bogotá came close, banning
all automobile traffic on Thursdays.