At a recent gathering at the United Nations World Urban Forum, representatives cheered to one single theme: The automobile has put us (humanity) on the road to destruction.
The most ardent enemy of the automobile was Enrique Penalosa (pictured). He espoused the idea that streets be 'returned' to the citizen who would either walk, use personal transporation like bicycles, or public means like buses. Expanding streets or building new roads for cars, he argued, brings inequality between those who own vehicles and those who do not.

Penalosa has backed his views with action. As the former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, he diverted a $5 million highway expansion project into human services such as libraries, schools, and assisting the poor.

"The public good must prevail over private interest," statedd Penalosa. "Cities need to have great public pedestrian space; that's not a luxury, it is a minimum a democracy (can) offer its citizens. Building bigger roads only leads to more traffic congestion. We are taking money away from the needs of the poor to serve the needs of the minority that drives a car."

Famed environmentalist David Suzuki also spoke at the forum. However, Penalosa was the only speaker who received standing ovations.

While we don't have the numbers in front of us, calling the car-driving portion of most populations a "minority" is a little misleading. While that may be the case in some countries like Colombia, it certainly is not in many heavily industrialized nations like the U.S. Anyway, we'll get off our soapbox and let you get on yours in the comments section.

[Source: Toronto Star]

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