Within a mere three year period, Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, transformed one of the world’s most chaotic and crime ridden cities into a model of civic-minded and sustainable urban planning. His approach was to focus on the pedestrian and the cyclist, whilst minimizing automobile culture. He reformed public transportation, added greenways, built mega-libraries and created the longest stretch of bike-only lanes in the world.
Peñalosa’s philosophy is that by changing the circumstances people live in you change the people themselves. The fact that in the ten year period following his massive restructuring, the city of Bogotá experienced a 70% drop in crime, seems proof he is right.
Another important thing to take note of is just how important a part the mayor plays in creating the future city. High ranking politicians may make lofty agreements as to CO2 reduction and other environmental and humanitarian issues, but it’s the right minded mayors who are needed to actually implement it.
This excellent documentary of Bogotá and Peñalosa by PBS e2 series is a truly inspiring watch directed by Tad Fettig, and narrated by Brad Pitt.