Living in a city without cars
- Living in a city without cars
Forum challenged to think beyond automobile culture
By Ken McCall
Dayton Daily News
DAYTON | Imagine a day without cars.
People in Bogota, Colombia, don't have to imagine it. One day a year cars
are banned in the city of 7 million people.
Former Bogota Mayor Enrique Penalosa created the car-free day to make the
city more friendly to pedestrians. During his term from 1998 to 2001,
Penelosa also began construction of a massive bus-based mass transit system,
developed or rebuilt 1,200 parks and built hundreds of kilometers of
sidewalks, bicycle paths and pedestrian streets.
Penalosa, now an urban design consultant, was in Dayton on Thursday as part
of a Regional Issues Forum at Sinclair Community College.
People in stressed cities all over the world are beginning to rethink how
should cities should be designed, he said. And as cities in the Third World
become more prosperous - more Western - the problem they are confronting is
the domination of the automobile.
"All over the world, all of the sudden we realize that for the last 80 years
we were making cities more for the car's mobility than for children's
happiness," Penalosa said during an afternoon media reception at the offices
of the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. "We have to try to think
now about how to make cities a little bit more for people and a little bit
less for cars. So everyone is trying different schemes."
People need to remember, Penalosa said, that we've been living in cities for
5,000 years, but we've only been driving cars in significant numbers for
about 80 years.
"For 5,000 years, all the streets were pedestrian," he said. "Any child
could go around. We have come to think that it's totally normal that a child
should grow in terror of cars. And it's right that children should be afraid
of cars because there are 200,000 children killed by cars every year in the
world. So it's not an empty threat.
"People are always in fear of being run over by cars, even in the suburbs,
and we have come to think this is normal."
By embracing bicycle paths as transportation corridors, he said, cities give
everyone the right to mobility.
"If you have a right to mobility, the right to move from one place to
another without getting killed, it cannot be exclusive to those who own a
motor vehicle," he said.
A good city, Penalosa said, is a place where people can walk or ride
bicycles and feel safe doing it.
"When a shopping mall replaces public space as a meeting place for people,
it tends to be a symptom that the city's ill," he said. "There are a lot of
ill cities in the United States and all over the world."
Contact Ken McCall at 225-2393.