Who is the Mayor of Bogota? Update: the story behind the quote

A few days ago, when I posted the quote “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transportation” I wondered who the Mayor of Bogota was. Actually, the citation is from the former Mayor of Bogota, Mr Enrique Penalosa, who seems to be a very wise man.

During his term of office, Enrique Penalosa built 300km of protected bike lanes, and said:

“When we build very high quality bicycle infrastructure, besides protecting cyclists, it shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally as important to one in a $30,000 car.”

But please have a look yourself:

That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

But that’s not the whole story: Every Sunday and on public holidays, motor vehicles are banned from 18 out of 20 districts of the city of Bogota. I know it’s difficult to imagine, but the “Ciclovía“, the day of the week, when almost the whole city becomes a bike lane, is carried out since 1976, i.e. for more than 35 years. I know that we had car-free Sundays in the 70s as well, but as soon as the oil spell was over, the car-free Sunday were discontinued in Germany. Not so in Bogota. In 1980, the Ciclovia was enshrined in law.

Remember? In the quote, Mr Penalosa did not mention bicycles, he spoke of the use of public transportation as a sign of progress. Besides the bicycle infrastructure, the former mayor established the TransMilenio, a bus rapid transit system, which provides “public transportation that improves traffic flow and reduces smog at a fraction of the cost of building a subway.” (New York Times)

Source: www.nytimes.com

According to the New York Times, TransMilenio helped reducing the use of bus fuels and related emissions by 59% and thus became “the only large transportation project approved by the United Nations to generate and sell carbon credits.” (New York Times)

And naturally, the TransMilenio and the bike infrastructure are interlinked: “TransMilenio stations at each end of a line have huge bicycle parking facilities to facilitate bicyclists using the system.” (Wikipedia)

“If Bogotá can do it, why can’t we?” said Enrique Peñalosa.

Absolutely, Enrique Penalosa seems to be a wise man.