Friday, 27 March 2015 would be one of the happiest days in my life. It sounds like i’m exagerrating but I’m not. Well, on that day, I got an autograph from “my favorite politician”, Enrique Peñalosa, ex mayor of Bogota. Normally, i don’t like politicians but he’s different. Even though nobody is perfect (politicians too) but he has something that I admire : his environmental and urban planning policy. When he was being a mayor of Bogota (1998-2001), bus rapid transit (in Bogota it’s called “Transmilenio, “older brother” of transjakarta) and bike lane were constructed. In addition, Bogota has more parks and more sidewalks.

IMG-20150321-WA0001At the beginning of his three-year term as mayor of Bogotá, Penalosa was nearly impeached because he managed to ban cars from the sidewalks. What triggered his impeachment was the protest from business owners accustomed to using pedestrian walkways as their designated parking areas.

IMG-20150321-WA0003 IMG-20150321-WA0002  His statements regarding urban planning always become my favorite quotes. Here are some of them  :

– “A bicycle path is a symbol that $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30000 dollar car”

– “God made us walking animals, pedestrians. as a fish needs to swim, a bird to fly, a deer to run, we need to walk, not in order to suvive but to be happy”

– “In developing-world cities, the majority of people don’t have cars, so I will say, when you construct a good sidewalk, you are constructing democracy. A sidewalk is a symbol of equality”

Right now, Peñalosa is a consultant and president of board of Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). For your information, I didn’t meet Peñalosa personally. A friend of mine who works for ITDP Indonesia went to Karachi to attend a meeting and Peñalosa was there too. Surprisingly, Penalosa sent me messages through a video. He’s very friendly and sympathetic. Someday, I hope I can meet him in person 🙂