kottke.org posts about Enrique Penalosa

Where the Rich Use Public Transportation…

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 16, 2021

I ran across this quote while reading about what makes Tokyo work as a city:

A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.

It’s a great quote and the piece attributes it to the former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Gustavo Petro. But he never said it (even though the vast majority of the results on Google say he did). The original quote (from 2012) is from another former mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, and it reads:

Una ciudad avanzada no es en la que los pobres pueden moverse en carro, sino una en la que incluso los ricos utilizan el transporte público.

That roughly translates in English to:

An advanced city is not one where the poor can get around by car, but one where even the rich use public transportation.

Peñalosa, who made public transportation a central issue during his two terms as mayor, provided his own English translation in a 2013 TEDTalk:

An advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but rather one where even the rich use public transport.

I’m not sure if Peñalosa ever actually said the exact quote at the top of the post. The misattribution to Petro seems to stem from a tweet that went viral in 2012, an episode that foreshadowed how easily pithy information spreads on social media but also how difficult it is to correct misinformation once it’s out there. I expect this post to do almost nothing to change that, but one must tilt at one’s windmills.

What America can learn from Europe about redesigning urban traffic patterns

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2018

In the NY Times, architect and urban designer John Massengale discusses how four European cities (London, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Copenhagen) addressed their urban traffic problems and how NYC might apply those lessons to fix its own traffic issues. Massengale shared what the Dutch learned in reconfiguring their streets:

1. When drivers slow down to 20 m.p.h. or below, they are less likely to hit people and much less likely to seriously injure or kill people if they do hit them.

2. The best way to slow cars down is to throw away all the techniques that traffic engineers developed to make traffic flow quickly.

3. When you throw out all the detritus of traffic engineering, it becomes much easier to make beautiful places where people want to walk. Bike riding becomes more pleasant and safer as well.

His four-step plan to fix traffic in Manhattan is equally simple in principle:

The next step is to adopt congestion pricing below 96th Street in Manhattan and then:

1. Decrease the number of Manhattan streets that function as transportation corridors primarily devoted to moving machines through the city.

2. Design and build Slow Zones where people actually drive slowly.

3. Make the transportation corridors that remain better urban places, with a better balance between city life and moving cars.

Seems to me a vital part of this is fixing, expanding, and subsidizing the subway system…get everyone using the subway. Better, more reliable, and cheaper public transportation = less demand for taxis and Lyfts. As Bogota mayor Enrique Peñalosa said, “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.”