Two thumbs up for Bogota

This is a little late, but if you haven’t read this past Saturday’s Globe and Mail, I suggest you pick it up. There was a great article in there on Bogota’s urban happiness.

From living hell to living well: A radical campaign to return streets from cars to people in Colombia’s largest city is now a model for the world

Fabulous. I love hearing environmental/social success stories like this. In short, Bogota has adopted a better way to move people. Instead of exasperating the transportation issue like we do here in the land of the ‘developed’, they opted to invest heavily in public transit. I’ll just jot down my favourite parts, but great read.

  • this decision was not based on environmental ideals, it was driven by economic philosophy based on human happiness
  • traffic jams and long commutes make people angry while biking/walking and faster commutes makes people happy (strange eh?)
  • Bogota almost went the nasty route of urban sprawl, complete with a paved paradise (thankfully Mr. Peñalosa stopped this)
    • “A city can be friendly to people or it can be friendly to cars, but it can’t be both,” the new mayor announced. He shelved the highway plans and poured the billions saved into parks, schools, libraries, bike routes and the world’s longest “pedestrian freeway.”
  • public transit= equity (i.e. biking and public transit should not be reserved for the poor)

I don’t own a car and I have no plan on getting one soon. I have to say that there are definite times when I hate OC Transpo (getting to Kanata after 9am is nothing short of a pain in the ass), but I save thousands and I somewhat like the mindless 45min in the morning that gives me a chance to read or listen to podcasts.

Ottawa looks so foolish for dropping the public transit ball. We’ve been so close and then we always go for the wrong decision. Again, get your act together Ottawa!

While reading this, it conjured up a project I did recently on the auto industry. The more I looked into it, I was sickened. Here were some of my thoughts on the industry:

  • geographic impact:
    • just give it a second to settle in on how much space our damn cars take up:
    • roads, highways, bridges, parking lots, gas stations, junkywards, garages (also..think about where the garage is place: smack in the front – that’s how much pride we put into our cars
  • social impact:
    • first came freedom (think On the Road by Jack Kerouac)
    • then came dependence (think 2 hour commutes for those suburbanites)
  • There’s so much more but I should stop it there….

So, when I grow up (haha..past article) I’d love it if I could work, live and play:) in the same area. For some reason I have this vision about always being able to buy fresh bread and market fresh food just around the corner. .. I’m not saying I’ll never buy a car, but I’d love it if I could just keep it stored up and then use it when I really needed it. That would make me happy. And as the ingenius mayor of Bogota was quoted:

“There are a few things we can agree on about happiness,” he says. “You need to fulfill your potential as a human being. You need to walk. You need to be with other people. Most of all, you need to not feel inferior. When you talk about these things, designing a city can be a very powerful means to generate happiness.”

I have so many more thoughts on this..but I’ll save it for another post.


One thought on “Two thumbs up for Bogota

  1. […] solution to the Bogota post : Allo Velo’v! I said that I’d continue on the Bogota post later. I had a lot of ideas but too much to write for one […]

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