Friday, September 10, 2004

Cities of joy: Ode Magazine article

Ode magazine is fantastic. It’s an alternative for people hungry to see real and positive changes in the world today.

In their words,
“Ode is an independent magazine about the people and ideas that are changing the world."

Readers’ used to carry it. That’s how I discovered it. They’ve since stopped. Check out to see how great it is, and then bug Readers’ to start carrying it again.

Following are the amazing accomplishments of Enrique Peñalosa, who was the mayor of Bogotá, Columbia for just three years, in 1998-2001. This is part of an article in the latest issue called "Cities of Joy."

The rest of the article is great, too, and can be found at

In just three years, 1998-2001 (terms limits prevented him from seeking a second term) Peñalosa’s Administration accomplished the following:
· Created the Trans-Milenio, a bus rapid transit system (BRT), which now carries a half-million passengers daily on special bus lanes that offer most of the advantages of a metro at a fraction of the cost.

· Built 52 new schools, refurbished 150 others, added 14,000 computers to the public school system, and increased student enrollment by 34 percent.

· Established or refurbished 1200 parks and playgrounds throughout the city.

· Built three large and 10 neighborhood libraries.

· Built 100 nurseries for children under five, and found permanent sources of funding.

· Improved life in the slums by bringing water to 100 percent of Bogotá households, and buying undeveloped land on the outskirts of the city to prevent real estate speculation. This land is to be developed as affordable housing with electrical, sewage, and telephone service as well as space reserved for parks, schools, and greenways.

· Saw the murder rate fall by two-thirds. (This was almost all conventional crime; contrary to expectations, terrorist acts are rare in Bogotá.)

· Reclaimed the sidewalks from motorists, who traditionally saw them as either a passing lane or a parking lot. “I was almost impeached by the car-owning upper classes,” Peñalosa notes, “ but it was popular with everyone else.”

· Established 300 kilometers of separated bikeways, the largest network in the developing world.

· Created the world’s longest pedestrian street, 17 kilometers crossing much of the city, as well as a 45- kilometer greenway along a path that had been originally slated for an eight-lane highway.

· Reduced peak traffic by 40 percent with a system where motorists must leave cars at home during rush hour two days a week. He also raised parking fees and local gas taxes, with half of the proceeds going to fund the new bus transit system.

· Inaugurated an annual car-free day, where everyone from CEOs to janitors had to had commute to work in some way other than a private automobile.

· Planted 100,000 trees.



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