A lack of infrastructure, security, leadership, police and safety left the people of Bogota, Colombia completely unoptimistic, but the leadership of Mayor Enrique Penalosa helped transform it into the thriving well-adjusted city it is today.
“Bogota: Building a Sustainable City” is a film that discusses the transformation of Bogota. This film was shown as a part of Western Washington University’s Transportation Week in the Viking Union.
The film starts by describing the prior state of Bogota before Penalosa took over. It was a city where poverty, drug cartels and violence were the norm. Many aspects of the city was underdeveloped. During Penalosa’s three-year mayorship, he decided to focus his efforts on creating a different way of life, where the city was more for people than it was for cars.
Penalosa started by creating a public transit system. The city only had non-regulated independent bus systems. The buses would often weave through lanes without signaling, drop people off in the middle of the street and would even drive onto sidewalks, killing pedestrians.
Thus, the TransMilenio public transit system was born. TransMilenio is an abbreviation for transcending the millennium, insinuating that this system will change the current way of life. After the public transit system was created Penalosa said, the new system saved people 10 percent of their income by decreasing the amount of buses they have to get on and left the streets much more organized.
Penalosa also transformed Bogota be creating the largest pedestrian and bike only road way in the Latina America and the world. It was called the Alameda El Porvenir. It was a pedestrian and bike only roadway traveling through the poorest areas of Bogota connecting 3 million residents.
The roadway transformed all of the areas around it, turning it into a place for people to congregate. People used it not only as a road way but as a park as well.
Penalosa also transformed Bogota by building schools, daycares, parks, libraries and planting 70,000 trees.
Ten years after the changes started, the murder rate in Bogota decreased 70 percent. What was once one of the highest murder rates in the world is now lower than Washington D.C.
Penalosa retired from his mayorship with one of the highest approval rating of all time. Penalosa believed that “sustainable urban design can be the foundation for social justice.”
Karen Izumoto, alternative transportation coordinator for Western’s Associated Students, hosted the event. Izumoto really appreciated the “transit oriented development” that Penalosa inacted, Izumoto said.