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Bogotá and "Cities of Joy"
Alex Steffen, 23 Dec 04

We've talked about the amazing transformations in Bogotá before, but here's a really interesting update, exploring how Bogota is turning itself into one of the models for developing world urban planning that is both green and soulful:

"You must remember that Third World cities are still two-thirds unbuilt," he tells me, explaining that by 2050 most of these cities will be three times larger than today, which means there is still a lot of city planning to do. "We can take advantage of what's been done--mistakes and successes--by cities in the developing world."

Opening the window and gazing down at sidewalks filled with people, he says, "I love New York. I feel so much energy here. But there is so much more that you could do: pedestrian streets, more parks, bikeways, open up the waterfronts. The old sections of European cities are very beautiful. The closest thing you'll see to what I am talking about are Danish or Dutch cities, but even they could be improved. They need a network of pedestrian streets through the whole city, not just the center, and they need more sports facilities and parks and green space. We could do all these things in Bogotá and other developing cities. I think you can have a city that combines the best of suburbs and the best of old cities. ...

As Peñalosa and I sit down on a bench with our sandwiches, we stop talking for the first time all day and just watch the show. Kids play. Mothers chat. Students read. Construction workers sip lattes. Business executives nap. Street people sing. When a pretty woman glides by on her bike, Peñalosa nods his head and laughs, "Bikes are a wonderful thing in cities. They're sensual. You can watch all the other people on their bikes, meet your friends, stop to talk."

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Enrique Penalosa was in Pune, India on 4th when he gave a public lecture on the wonderful work in Bogota. It would be good to know where this talk was given, as more people need to know of his achievements. Your news item does not give details about where he gave the lecture.
Sujit Patwardhan

Posted by: Sujit Patwardhan on 29 Dec 04



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