Enrique Penalosa is the Mayor of Bogota and brother to Canadian bicycle advocate Gil Penalosa. Enrique expounds publicly on his crisp views about active transportation and transit. In this article from The Guardian, he minces no words:
“Mobility is a very peculiar challenge for a city – different from health or education – because it’s one problem that tends to get worse as societies get richer. But above all, we must understand that an advanced city is not one where poor residents use cars, but one where rich residents use public transport.
When we introduced bicycle paths in Bogotá nearly 20 years ago, when I was mayor here the first time, it was seen as a crazy idea. Back then, there were no bikeways in London, Paris, Madrid or New York. Now, of course, so many people are interested in this movement – particularly young people.
If all citizens are equal, then somebody who is walking or on a bike has a right to the same amount of road space as somebody in a Rolls-Royce or luxury car. And a bus with 150 passengers has a right to 150 times more road space than a car with one passenger. Which means we should give exclusive lanes to buses and create Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems; it’s the only solution.
In Bogotá, our BRT has the same speed and the same capacity as a subway; indeed, we move more passengers per hour than any subway in Europe. And in the future, we will ensure – either via the new subway or BRT lines – that more than 80% of the city’s population lives less than 1km from a mass transit line.”
And here is my favourite phrase from Enrique:
“The whole challenge of urban mobility is not an engineering challenge but a political one. Today, it’s almost as unjust and absurd to see a bus in a traffic jam as it was, a century or so ago, not to allow women to vote.”