February 01, 2003

Enrique Peñalosa Inspires Change Across Africa

The tour saw many concrete successes, including plans to build Bus Rapid Transit and Cycleway systems, Accra’s first public bicycle ride and the public announcement of the cancellation of a major freeway project in Cape Town. But more importantly, attendees were converted to Enrique Peñalosa’s vision of sustainable and equitable planning.

Peñalosa’s words were so inspiring that a Cape Times report called his visit to Cape Town “a turning point after which nothing was seen in the same light again.”

At each stop, Peñalosa repeated a powerful message for local leaders: instead of focusing only on improving mobility and transportation efficiency, cities should be revitalized with an emphasis on improving quality of life and dignity for all people. By providing ample public space for recreation and bringing mobility to the poor through facilities for bicycling, walking and public transportation, leaders can build cities that meet the needs of all residents.

In each city—Dakar, Senegal; Cape Town and Pretoria, South Africa; and Accra, Ghana—local leaders had already begun to move toward sustainable transportation choices. With the concrete successes of Bogotá fresh in their minds, local planners are even more enthusiastic to move forward with these plans.

Many of the officials who attended the Building a New City tour are now traveling to Bogotá for the International Seminar on Human Mobility to see the city’s successes first hand.

The Building a New City tour, sponsored by USAID and, in South Africa, Velo Mondial, took place January 17-24. In addition to Enrique Peñalosa, the tour delegation included Carrie Stokes of USAID’s Climate Change Team, ITDP Africa Director Paul Steely White and former Peñalosa advisor Oscar Edmundo Diaz.

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