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

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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