Today Toronto Mayor Rob Ford died at age 46. RIP. Click here for my earlier post about it. It got me thinking about famous current mayors.

Mayor as celebrity is growing. Historically, we are now experiencing the most significant migration to cities globally and their growth, rapid change, and impacts are confirmed by how many mayors people now know.

Twenty years ago you might have known your city’s mayor and the one in the next town over, if you voted municipally. Now names like Lisa Helps, Don Iverson, John Tory, Gregor Robertson, Naheed Nenshi, Boris Johnson, Bill de Blasio, Dr. Zekra Alwach, and their nicknames cascade or erupt from people who haven’t even visited that mayor’s town yet.

Famous mayors in Canada – household names – contrast starkly with Rob Ford’s former lifestyle with their glow from bicycle riding, tweeting, and travelling to meet each other to share best practices and lobby the feds.

Perhaps one day Enrique Peñalosa Londoño will be a household name and people will gush his quotes – and not just that famous one:

“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.”

“A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen in a $30,000 car.”

“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.”

“One symbol of a lack of democracy is to have cars parked on the sidewalk.”

“We’re living an experiment. We might not be able to fix the economy. We might not be able to make everyone as rich as Americans. But we can design the city to give people dignity, to make them feel rich. The city can make them happier.”