According to Penalosa, democracy is not a political process. It embodies itself in the urban development agenda.
Enrique Penalosa to speak at seminar on urban development
By our correspondent
With a fast-growing population and increasing pace of urbanisation, cities in Pakistan are facing mounting problems related to mobility and public transport. Confronted with similar challenges, many cities around the world are re-thinking ‘traditional’ approaches to urban transport by emphasising different priorities and approaches.
The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in collaboration with the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), a programme of the Clinton Foundation, and SHEHRI-Citizens for a Better Environment (Shehri-CBE), has organised a seminar on “Sustainable Urban Development & Mobility”. The objective of this seminar is to provide key stakeholders an opportunity to hear about a different and more socially inclusive and efficient urban vision, which would improve the quality of life and make our cities more competitive.
The main speaker will be Enrique Penalosa, a world renowned urban strategist and former mayor of Bogota, Colombia. During his tenure as Mayor, the city of 7 million underwent tremendous change and led to development of the (now) world famous TransMillenio Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). Penalosa has been featured in The New York Times, Herald Tribune, PBS Television, BBC and many others and has advised cities throughout the world such as Cape Town, Denver, Berkeley, Seattle, Melbourne, Sao Paulo amongst others. Penalosa will speak on “Sustainable Urban Development and Transportation”.
Penalosa argues that cities in developing countries – if they continue on their current trajectory of development – will take another century-and-a-half to reach the sophistication of cities in the West.
When elected mayor, Pensalosa took action against car owners who parked their vehicles on green belts. He reduced the width of roads in the city centre and, in turn, increased the width of sidewalks. He rejected a project proposal from JICA to build a multibillion-dollar rapid mass-transit system and instead spent a fraction of the amount in providing dedicated bus lanes. He introduced TransMillenio, a bus rapid transit system based on the one developed by Jamie Lerner in the Brazilian city of Curitiba. He stopped all money being spent on roads for cars, and instead spent it on schools, museums, developing public parks and nearly 300 km of pedestrian and cycle promenades.
Penalosa is of the view that money spent on automobile infrastructure is money wasted. Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, has allocated nearly a quarter of a billion rupees for the feasibility study of an overhead expressway along Lahore’s Ferozepur Road. The CDA in Islamabad just launched the Rs2.3 billion Zero Point Interchange Project and the CDGK is also looking at at least two overhead automobile expressways. This is in the face of the fact that a disproportionately small number of people actually own and drive cars. The automobile elite have a throttle grip on our urban development agenda.
According to Penalosa, democracy is not a political process. It embodies itself in the urban development agenda. If you see billions of rupees being spent on a road that doesn’t have proper sidewalks, you don’t have democracy: you have an urban automobile elite telling you a man in a car is more important than a man on a bicycle.