peñalosa was here

Or rather, there.

And it's Enrique, not Gerry.

Apparently, my other favorite mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, was in town last month to keynote the League of Cities of the Philippines convention.

Entitled “Building a Just and Sustainable City,” Peñalosa’s presentation in the Convention emphasized the importance of creating a vision for a city—that which makes residents happier. He stressed that the most sustainable city is that which fosters human happiness as he puts premium to providing a good quality of life for urban residents.
You can read the rest of the LCP press release here.

Nary a mention of it though in any of the papers (or any of the blogs). You'd think this would be important to the metro pages. Ah, but then the only time we talk about our cities is when we complain about how bad it is.

I'm pretty sure he had a great presentation and I hope the mayors were listening. In a recent speech in L.A. for the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, Peñalosa talked about the role of the urban fabric in our democracy. This gem:
"The affluent person goes to a large house, with a garden, has access to restaurants, to country houses, country clubs, sports clubs and vacations. The poor person and his/her children have a small room, practically only room to sleep, and no alternative for their leisure time if there is no public space. Therefore, in a democracy, the first place that money should go is quality sidewalks, parks and pedestrian streets. I cannot give luxury housing to everyone, but i can give quality sidewalks to everyone."
Judging by his presentation (pdf 8.6mb) to the LCP, Peñalosa probably covered much of the same ground.

Like Jaime Lernier, Peñalosa knows what he is talking about. Project for Public Spaces tells us that as mayor of Bogota, Peñalosa:
  • Created a successful Urban Land Reform institution.
  • Created a new bus-based transit system: TransMilenio (BBC audio feature here wma, 5 minutes).
  • Spearheaded large improvements to the city center, including the rejuvenation of plazas, creation of a large park in an area previously overrun by crime and drugs, and transformation of one of the main deteriorating downtown avenues into a dynamic pedestrian pubic space.
  • Built more than a hundred nurseries for children under 5 and assured resources for their operation.
  • Increased children enrolment in public schools by more than 200,000, a 34% increase in four years; did major improvements to more than 150 school buildings and built 50 new schools.
  • Put in place a network of 14,000 computers in all public schools connected to both the Internet and a network of 3 large new libraries and several smaller ones that were built.
  • Planted more than 100,000 trees.
  • Built or reconstructed hundreds of kilometers of sidewalks; more than 300 kilometers of bicycle paths, pedestrian streets, and greenways; and more than 1,200 parks.
  • Instituted the city's first "Car-Free Day" in 2000, for which he received the Stockholm Challenge Award. Through a referendum, people adopted a yearly car free day and decided that from the year 2015 onwards, there would be no cars during rush hours, from 6 AM to 9 AM and from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM. (Imagine a car-free day for Metro Manila! -UDC)
Peñalosa (in one of the last slides in his presentation to the LCP) defined the good city, thus:
"We could say that a good city is not one with great highways but rather one where a child in a bicycle could go safely anywhere."
What about you, dear reader? What do you think defines the "good city"?

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