Enrique Penalosa – Why buses represent democracy in action

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“The cities we are going to build over the next 50 years will determine quality of life and happiness for billions of people toward the future,” states Enrique Penalosa during his 2013 TED Talk ‘Why buses represent democracy in action.’ It’s an accurate summary of both the talk and the primary focus for Penalosa after his recent re-election as Mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogota, 15 years on.

Mobility, safety and health are high on the agenda for his first 100 days in office, pretty much what you would expect from the man who previously rolled out hundreds of kilometres of sidewalks and bike paths, emphasised the creation of public spaces and parks, and restricted the use of private cars. He also developed a bus transit system in Bogota, TransMilenio, allowing people who had previously been unable to access the city’s centre efficient and safe transport.

Sure, these same issues in Australia are vastly different in a Colombian context, but Penalosa speaks on a global scale about his vision of cities going forward. “We had to build a city not for businesses or automobiles, but for children and thus for people. Instead of building highways, we restricted car use. … We invested in high-quality sidewalks, pedestrian streets, parks, bicycle paths, libraries; we got rid of thousands of cluttering commercial signs and planted trees. … All our everyday efforts have one objective: Happiness.”

Watch his talk (and lots more) here

Follow Enrique Penalosa on Instagram @enriquepenalosal

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