Happy City: Less Car, More People-Centric

People-Centric Cities

Enrique Peñalosa was the subject of the Wayfinding Blog in 2014 when we shared his TED talk about equality in city planning. Now the second time Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, is going to host the Congress of United Cities and Local Governments and one more time he is bringing up the discussion about transport, people and city planning, as reported by Citiscope.

Between 1998 and 2001, on his first term as Bogotá’s Mayor, Peñalosa was almost impeached due to his proposals to make the city more equal and democratic. The concept underlining his projects was that a pedestrian, cyclist, bus passenger, and a private car driver have the same right to public space. Bogotá’s landscape was shifted by the development of exclusive and separated bus lanes, bicycle paths, and increases in the size of sidewalks.

Today, in a new mandate, Peñalosa recognises that there is still a large amount of work to be done in Bogotá as in many developing cities around the world.  In car-centric cities, private vehicles have the priority, therefore large roads are built and on-street parking is amply allowed instead of using the space to develop larger sidewalks, cycle lanes and parks.

The Mayor considers that every street should have bike paths and the city should have large amounts of green areas, leading people to have a pleasant outdoor experience. Promoting pedestrian-friendly cities and encouraging outdoor activities is a way to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, making the streets a desirable place where people from different backgrounds become closer. People-centric cities have a safer environment and can increase the quality-of-life for everyone.

The main goal should be happiness. According to Peñalosa, “one of the biggest obstacles to happiness is feeling inferior or excluded. A good city can be very powerful means for this not to happen”.  A city that is walkable, beautiful and offers access to cultural activities and education can make people’s life better regardless of their income or social status. The power to conduct meaningful change is the strength municipal policies rely on.

To read more about people-centric city planning, check our article Cities are for People.

Photo Credit: Worldwide Cycling Atlas


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