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Enrique Peñalosa Brings Inspiration to Boston

Streetfilms' Robin Urban Smith hopped a bus to Boston to hear world renowned urban strategist and champion of the livable streets movement, Enrique Peñalosa speak at the Boston Public Library. According to our friends at the LivableStreets Alliance, who organized his four day visit, more than 1,000 Bostonians attended the various events planned in his name.

Aptly nicknamed the "The Hub," or "The Walking City," Boston boasts the oldest subway system in North America and has the highest light rail ridership of any U.S. city.

Check out these other great Streetfilms for more on Enrique Peñalosa: Interview with Peñalosa, Bus Rapid Transit: Bogota, Physically Separated Bike Lanes, Enrique Penalosa talks with COMMUTErs, Ciclovia.

Jackie Douglas: Boston has a rich history in transportation.

Speaker: I think we can create an on road bike lane network around the city.

Jackie Douglas: So we’re trying to make urban planning a more community oriented enterprise.

Ken Kruckemeyer: The LivableStreets Alliance is a group of folks who have gotten together trying to act as a way of collaborating between advocacy organisations in Boston.

Jackie Douglas: Enrique Penalosa is in Boston thanks to ITDP [00:30], Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and he’s here on a four day whirlwind tour of Boston and we’re showing him Boston and he’s meeting with politicians and professionals and students and speaking to the public. Right now I am in the Boston Public Library where Enrique Penalosa will be speaking tonight.

Enrique Penalosa: Pedestrian space is a magical good, I mean whenever we buy something in the store, soon it will cease giving happiness or pleasure, but [01:00] a public pedestrian space will never cease giving joy. It’s a very special good. Transport is not something that can be solved with money. This is so very special. Most things that we… most problems that we have can be tend to be able to be solved with money. This can only be solved with changes in our way of life. So it’s a very difficult problem to solve. Beyond that before we know what kind of city we want we have to know how do we want to live because we really a city that’s only a means to a way of life. [01:30] Bicycle way is a powerful symbol to show that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as one in a $30,000 car. It raises the social status of the cyclist, it makes them feel important. Where you have the most traffic jam, that’s where you need the bus way, because you need assistance where the bus will be much faster than the car. People will take the bus when the bus will take half as much time as the car. A BRT, like the one we have in Bogota, is moving more passengers per kilometre [02:00] than 95% of red systems in the world. So as I work internationally I am very concerned that there is not a high quality BRT in the United States because the US is a model for the world. It would be wonderful to have a city like Boston to have a great BRT.

Jackie Douglas: Boston has a rich history in transportation and first of all we are on one of the original American underground trolleys [02:30], the Green Line. And we also have a rich history in anti highway movement in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Ken Kruckemeyer: When Governor Francis Sergeant made the decision not to build a whole series of expressways that were planned for the inner city of Boston. Those expressways would have brought many, many thousands of more automobiles into the city, needing places to park and changing the way the city works, the things that we value about today, ranging from both its physical beauty to its economic vitality [03:00], or things that were actually created not by allowing more cars in, but by saying we can’t have more cars in the city and putting a limit on the number of cars that would come into the city.

Enrique Penalosa: We human beings, we have this wonderful thing, different from everyone else on the planet. We do not have to accept the world such as we receive it. We can dream and we can create it and you are such a fantastic democratic powerful creative society that I know very soon Boston will be an example better than The [03:30] Netherlands for bicycling and many other things. Thank you very much.

Ken Kruckemeyer: The visit of Enrique Penalosa to Boston allows us to concentrate on two levels of things. One has to do with doing the physical improvements to our basic transportation network in ways that are better and better, getting the details right, doing things that really need to be done and finding ways to do them quickly. But it also talks about… [04:00] it speaks to us about how we can do things in a temporal fashion, things that are celebrations, things that will help us think about Boston in a very different way than we currently do.

Speaker: What I love the most about Penalosa is that he understands that this is really not about concrete, it’s about happiness. It’s about people connecting to each other, about people holding hands, people talking.

Enrique Penalosa: Organised people have a great power. Organised people have great power. [04:30]

Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Robin Urban Smith is a multimedia storyteller who prefers to go by bike.

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