I was fortunate enough to hear him talk in Brisbane a few years ago and I was very impressed. Throughout my degree in the Built Environment I was taught about how to make our cities more sustainable, safe, connected and equal, but in the real world nothing gets done.
I remember him talking about being offered a lot of money to create roads; instead of taking this money he set up a bus system and bikeway paths. He gave priority to the poorer people in the city and is quoted as saying, “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."
He also promoted designing for children as a first priority. He felt that if a city was successful for children, than it will be successful for all people.
One of his fantastic ideas was to implement a car free day in the city in 2001. It was so successful that it is still continuing. By doing this, “Peñalosa hoped to demonstrate the possibilities and benefits of alternative forms of transportation, encouraged people to bike and walk, and combated the stigma associated with bicycles as “vehicles of the poor”.” (from <u>http://www.pps.org/articles/epenalosa-2/</u> )
He explains the event, “"Every Sunday we close 120 kilometers of roads to motor vehicles for seven hours. A million and a half people of all ages and incomes come out to ride bicycles, jog, and simply gather with others in community." (from<u>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrique_Pe%C3%B1alosa</u> )
Some great quotes from him are:
“Public space is for living, doing business, kissing, and playing. Its value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics; it must be felt with the soul.” (from <u>http://www.pps.org/articles/epenalosa-2/</u> )
“The world’s environmental sustainability and quality of life depends to a large extent on what is done during the next few years in the Third World’s 22 mega-cities. There is still time to think different… there could be cities with as much public space for children as for cars, with a backbone of pedestrian streets, sidewalks and parks, supported by public transport.” (from <u>http://www.pps.org/articles/epenalosa-2/</u> )
“For the poor, the only alternative to television for their leisure time is the public space. For this reason, high- quality public pedestrian space, and parks in particular, are evidence of a true democracy at work.” (from <u>http://www.pps.org/articles/epenalosa-2/</u> )
“Over the past 40 years, environmentalism has created a culture of respect for the environment, but there’s much less clarity about the kind of environment that creates a happy child.” (from <u>http://www.pps.org/articles/epenalosa-2/</u> )
"All this (Bogotá's) pedestrian infrastructure shows respect for human dignity. We’re telling people, “You are important" (from<u>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrique_Pe%C3%B1alosa</u>)
“We cannot continue to deceive ourselves thinking that to paint a little line on a road is a bike way. A bicycle way that is not safe for an 8-year old is not a bicycle way.”(from<u>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enrique_Pe%C3%B1alosa</u>)
I hope his respectful approach inspires you!