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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 pedestrian-friendly city.

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.

Initial Resistance becomes Enthusiastic Acceptance

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