Awake at the Wheel: Bogota's Response to the Transportation Challenge

| June 22, 2001

Awake at the Wheel: Bogotá's Response to the Transportation Challenge, Oscar Edmundo Díaz, Encompass
Traffic congestion and pollution do not only afflict the developed world. In their race to industrialize, many cities in less developed nations are running into serious health and environmental problems as the number of cars multiplies. At the same time, some cities, like Bogotá, Colombia, are trying innovative solutions that could provide a model for developed nations. 'What is probably the most important urban transportation undertaking in the world in the last half century is taking place in Bogotá,' writes Oscar Edmundo Díaz in Encompass, a Calgary-based magazine dedicated to 'charting a sustainable course.' Beginning with a 'car-free day' on February 24, 2000, the mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, kicked off a 15-year comprehensive program to promote alternatives to private automobiles, including downtown pedestrian zones, bikeways, increased train and bus service, and restrictions on land-use planning. On October 29, 2000, the citizens of Bogotá overwhelmingly approved a referendum calling for restrictions on rush hour traffic, and Peñalosa has since helped organize car-free days in other cities across the globe.
--Leif Utne
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