Summer 2004, p.10

On Urban Transport and Children: Peñalosa’s Maxim

“A city should be so constructed so that it is safely navigable by any seven-year-old on a bicycle”

Enrique Peñalosa, currently a visiting scholar at New York University, may be the person who has built and inspired the creation of more child-friendly streets than anyone else in the world. As the Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia from 1997 – 2000, he built over 300 kilometers of bike paths and instituted frequent citywide Car Free Days and Bicycle Sundays. In new subdivisions, he mandated and began building a network of pedestrian and bicycle only streets. As a result, bicycling is up 900%, mostly among the younger set. Elements of Bogotá’s success are now being replicated to various degrees in cities throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia, with Bogotá-inspired bicycle networks, Car Free Days and pedestrian promenades now in the works in such cities as Cape Town, South Africa; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Mexico City and many others.

Other Peñalosa quotables:

“We humans know more about what constitutes healthy habitat for a mountain gorilla than for a child living in a city.”

“We humans are pedestrians. We need to walk, not in order to survive, but to be happy.”

“In order to choose a city model we must have an idea of how do we want to live, because a city is really a means to a way of life. For example if we want a humane, child friendly city, motor-car road infrastructure may have to be limited and car use restricted.”

For more information about Enrique Peñalosa, visit