Pedestrian Paradise

Spacing Ottawa was at City Hall this evening to hear Gil Peñalosa, the former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, speak at Urban Forum’s Mobility Summit. Peñalosa is now the Executive Director of 8- 80 Cities, a Toronto-based non-profit that advocates for better walking and cycling infrastructure in cities.

Peñalosa creates a real sense of urgency around his topic and absolutely radiates enthusiasm for what can be done – and what is being done – to make cities around the world more walkable right now. The resource he most wanted to share with the audience was the one that a technical glitch prevented him from showing; it is the video above, called “Pedestrian Paradise”. It’s a look at what Melbourne, Australia has done to turn itself into one of the most walkable cities anywhere. What most impresses is how each step on its own was relatively small – and inexpensive – but the difference they have made to the urban fabric over just a few short years has been remarkable.

The Mobility Summit continues Thursday with “Transforming New York’s Streets” at 8.30 am, featuring Andrew Wiley-Schwartz from the New York City Department of Transportation, and at 7 P.M with the renowned urban designer Ken Greenberg, who will give a lecture called “Walking Home: The life and Lessons of a City Builder”. Both talks will be in the council chambers on the main floor of City Hall.