Taming Traffic

In Paris, New York, and Mexico City, rich and poor alike escape the summer heat in city parks. But in many places in the developing world, open public spaces are as rare as stable democracies. That may be no accident. If it appears frivolous to write about public space in cities like Bogota, Delhi, and Lima, where poverty and squalor run rampant, consider that the government's subsidy of grass and concrete for pedestrians is a measure of its respect for human dignity and the democratic values.

Public spaces are where poor and rich meet as equals. If governments cannot level the playing field in a global economy, they can at least equalize the enjoyment of a city during leisure time. In the Third World, this means offering residents clean and plentiful public parks and keeping the sidewalks clear for pedestrians. While the latter is taken for granted in the developed world, sidewalks in Latin America are often akin to disputed territory. Pedestrians shouldn't have to compete with cars. City and government officials should ensure that parks and paved paths become as ubiquitous to a city's landcape as parking spaces.

As Mayor of Bogotá, I was almost impeached for insisting that pedestrians win this war with the automobile and commerce. Shop-owners and drivers complained that sidewalks should continue to be shared with parked cars, as they had been for years. We had to explain that although sidewalks live next to roads, they do not belong to the same family. Rather, sidewalks are close relatives of parks and plazas.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/PZkTBzJ;
  1. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.