A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba, Brasil, and governor of ParanÃ¡. I had heard many good things about Curitiba, like how he had helped to turn the city around with a superb bus rapid transit system and high density development along transit corridors. His presentations were fantastic. Then, I saw a presentation on BogotÃ¡, Colombia and the turn around in that city. Someone described it as “Curitiba on Crack.” Everyone has heard how bad conditions have been in Bogota over the years (especially with drugs), but it is not the same as it used to be. BogotÃ¡ is now hooked on a new type of crack – “Pedestrian Crack!”
Part of that is due to the leadership and the creative approaches taken by Enrique PeÃ±alosa during his reign as mayor of BogotÃ¡. He helped to establish an even better bus rapid transit system than Curitiba, miles and miles of bike/ped trails, and even converted numerous miles of vehicle streets to pedestrian-only streets. Not only has the transit, bicycle, and pedestrian modes shares significantly increased, the number of crimes committed in Bogota has dramatically reduced. So much so that I heard its crime levels are on par with Oakland, California (I have not verified this).
The video above is an interview with Mr. PeÃ±alosa and was shot by the New York City Streets Renaissance, an incredible organization (view their StreetsBlog). This video is a shortened version of a longer interview where he talks about the changes in BogotÃ¡, and what he envisions for New York City. I invite you to watch that video, along with all of their other amazing videos. We will be featuring more of their videos in the future. In the meantime, start planning your trip with me to visit Curitiba and BogotÃ¡.