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  • Mobility in developing world cities

  • is a very peculiar challenge,

  • because different from health

  • or education or housing,

  • it tends to get worse as societies become richer.

  • Clearly, a unsustainable model.

  • Mobility, as most other developing country problems,

  • more than a matter of money or technology,

  • is a matter of equality, equity.

  • The great inequality in developing countries

  • makes it difficult to see, for example,

  • that in terms of transport,

  • an advanced city is not one

  • where even the poor use cars,

  • but rather one where even the rich

  • use public transport.

  • Or bicycles: For example, in Amsterdam,

  • more than 30 percent of the population

  • uses bicycles,

  • despite the fact that the Netherlands has

  • a higher income per capita than the United States.

  • There is a conflict in developing world cities

  • for money, for government investment.

  • If more money is invested in highways,

  • of course there is less money for housing,

  • for schools, for hospitals,

  • and also there is a conflict for space.

  • There is a conflict for space between

  • those with cars and those without them.

  • Most of us accept today

  • that private property and a market economy

  • is the best way to manage most of society's resources.

  • However, there is a problem with that,

  • that market economy needs

  • inequality of income in order to work.

  • Some people must make more money,

  • some others less.

  • Some companies succeed. Others fail.

  • Then what kind of equality

  • can we hope for today

  • with a market economy?

  • I would propose two kinds

  • which both have much to do with cities.

  • The first one is equality of quality of life,

  • especially for children,

  • that all children should have,

  • beyond the obvious health and education,

  • access to green spaces, to sports facilities,

  • to swimming pools, to music lessons.

  • And the second kind of equality

  • is one which we could call "democratic equality."

  • The first article in every constitution states

  • that all citizens are equal before the law.

  • That is not just poetry.

  • It's a very powerful principle.

  • For example, if that is true,

  • a bus with 80 passengers

  • has a right to 80 times more road space

  • than a car with one.

  • We have been so used to inequality, sometimes,

  • that it's before our noses and we do not see it.

  • Less than 100 years ago,

  • women could not vote,

  • and it seemed normal,

  • in the same way that it seems normal today

  • to see a bus in traffic.

  • In fact, when I became mayor,

  • applying that democratic principle

  • that public good prevails over private interest,

  • that a bus with 100 people

  • has a right to 100 times more road space than a car,

  • we implemented a mass transit system

  • based on buses in exclusive lanes.

  • We called it TransMilenio, in order to make buses sexier.

  • And one thing is that it is also a very beautiful democratic symbol, because as buses zoom by,

  • expensive cars stuck in traffic,

  • it clearly is almost a picture of democracy at work.

  • In fact, it's not just a matter of equity.

  • It doesn't take Ph.D.'s.

  • A committee of 12-year-old children

  • would find out in 20 minutes

  • that the most efficient way to use scarce road space

  • is with exclusive lanes for buses.

  • In fact, buses are not sexy,

  • but they are the only possible means

  • to bring mass transit to all areas

  • of fast growing developing cities.

  • They also have great capacity.

  • For example, this system in Guangzhou

  • is moving more passengers our direction

  • than all subway lines in China,

  • except for one line in Beijing,

  • at a fraction of the cost.

  • We fought not just for space for buses,

  • but we fought for space for people,

  • and that was even more difficult.

  • Cities are human habitats,

  • and we humans are pedestrians.

  • Just as fish need to swim or birds need to fly

  • or deer need to run, we need to walk.

  • There is a really enormous conflict,

  • when we are talking about developing country cities,

  • between pedestrians and cars.

  • Here, what you see is a picture that shows

  • insufficient democracy.

  • What this shows is that people who walk

  • are third-class citizens

  • while those who go in cars

  • are first-class citizens.

  • In terms of transport infrastructure,

  • what really makes a difference

  • between advanced and backward cities

  • is not highways or subways

  • but quality sidewalks.

  • Here they made a flyover, probably very useless,

  • and they forgot to make a sidewalk.

  • This is prevailing all over the world.

  • Not even schoolchildren are more important than cars.

  • In my city of Bogotá,

  • we fought a very difficult battle

  • in order to take space from cars,

  • which had been parking on sidewalks for decades,

  • in order to make space for people that should reflect

  • dignity of human beings,

  • and to make space for protected bikeways.

  • First of all, I had black hair before that.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I was almost impeached in the process.

  • It is a very difficult battle.

  • However, it was possible, finally,

  • after very difficult battles, to make a city

  • that would reflect some respect for human dignity,

  • that would show that those who walk are equally

  • important to those who have cars.

  • Indeed, a very important ideological and political issue anywhere

  • is how to distribute that most valuable resource

  • of a city, which is road space.

  • A city could find oil or diamonds underground

  • and it would not be so valuable as road space.

  • How to distribute it between pedestrians,

  • bicycles, public transport and cars?

  • This is not a technological issue,

  • and we should remember that in no constitution

  • parking is a constitutional right

  • when we make that distribution.

  • We also built, and this was 15 years ago,

  • before there were bikeways in New York

  • or in Paris or in London,

  • it was a very difficult battle as well,

  • more than 350 kilometers of protected bicycle ways.

  • I don't think protected bicycle ways

  • are a cute architectural feature.

  • They are a right, just as sidewalks are,

  • unless we believe that only those

  • with access to a motor vehicle

  • have a right to safe mobility,

  • without the risk of getting killed.

  • And just as busways are,

  • protected bikeways also are

  • a powerful symbol of democracy,

  • because they show that a citizen on a $30 bicycle

  • is equally important

  • to one in a $30,000 car.

  • And we are living in a unique moment in history.

  • In the next 50 years, more than half of those cities

  • which will exist in the year 2060 will be built.

  • In many developing country cities,

  • more than 80 and 90 percent

  • of the city which will exist in 2060

  • will be built over the next four or five decades.

  • But this is not just a matter for developing country cities.

  • In the United States, for example,

  • more than 70 million new homes

  • must be built over the next 40 or 50 years.

  • That's more than all the homes that today exist

  • in Britain, France and Canada put together.

  • And I believe that our cities today

  • have severe flaws,

  • and that different, better ones could be built.

  • What is wrong with our cities today?

  • Well, for example, if we tell any three-year-old child

  • who is barely learning to speak

  • in any city in the world today,

  • "Watch out, a car,"

  • the child will jump in fright,

  • and with a very good reason, because there are

  • more than 10,000 children who are killed

  • by cars every year in the world.

  • We have had cities for 8,000 years,

  • and children could walk out of home and play.

  • In fact, only very recently,

  • towards 1900, there were no cars.

  • Cars have been here for really less than 100 years.

  • They completely changed cities.

  • In 1900, for example,

  • nobody was killed by cars in the United States.

  • Only 20 years later,

  • between 1920 and 1930,

  • almost 200,000 people

  • were killed by cars in the United States.

  • Only in 1925, almost 7,000 children

  • were killed by cars in the United States.

  • So we could make different cities,

  • cities that will give more priority to human beings

  • than to cars, that will give more public space

  • to human beings than to cars,

  • cities which show great respect

  • for those most vulnerable citizens,

  • such as children or the elderly.

  • I will propose to you a couple of ingredients

  • which I think would make cities much better,

  • and it would be very simple to implement them

  • in the new cities which are only being created.

  • Hundreds of kilometers of greenways

  • criss-crossing cities in all directions.

  • Children will walk out of homes into safe spaces.

  • They could go for dozens of kilometers safely

  • without any risk in wonderful greenways,

  • sort of bicycle highways,

  • and I would invite you to imagine the following:

  • a city in which every other street would be

  • a street only for pedestrians and bicycles.

  • In new cities which are going to be built,

  • this would not be particularly difficult.

  • When I was mayor of Bogotá,

  • in only three years, we were able to create

  • 70 kilometers,

  • in one of the most dense cities in the world,

  • of these bicycle highways.

  • And this changes the way people live,

  • move, enjoy the city.

  • In this picture, you see in one of the very poor neighborhoods,

  • we have a luxury pedestrian bicycle street,

  • and the cars still in the mud.

  • Of course, I would love to pave this street for cars.

  • But what do we do first?

  • Ninety-nine percent of the people in those neighborhoods don't have cars.

  • But you see, when a city is only being created,

  • it's very easy to incorporate

  • this kind of infrastructure.

  • Then the city grows around it.

  • And of course this is just a glimpse

  • of something which could be much better

  • if we just create it,

  • and it changes the way of life.

  • And the second ingredient, which would solve mobility,

  • that very difficult challenge in developing countries,

  • in a very low-cost and simple way,

  • would be to have hundreds of kilometers

  • of streets only for buses,

  • buses and bicycles and pedestrians.

  • This would be, again, a very low-cost solution

  • if implemented from the start,

  • low cost, pleasant transit

  • with natural sunlight.

  • But unfortunately, reality is not as good