GIL PENALOSA
World-renowned green urban planner and infrastructure specialist
Penalosa at UTPA
On November 27th, Gil Penalosa came to
UTPA to discuss how to make the Rio Grande
Valley “a lively city b...
Who is Gil Penalosa?
• Former Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Bogotá:
Led the design and development ...
• In addition, Penalosa serves on the Board of Directors of
City Parks Alliance, USA, and as Senior Advisor to
America Wal...
• Penalosa has transformed multiple cities around the world
allowing for city infrastructure to be centered around
people ...
What did Penalosa talk about at UTPA?
Penalosa came to talk about how to make cities for people: to
transform them into pl...
Penalosa’s Theory
His slides from Bogota, Colombia demonstrated equality of
transit among the classes. Communities – rich or poor –
were giv...
Bogota CicloRuta Network
Walking and Cycling: Human Rights
“Once we get our priorities (walking and cycling) dealt with, then will we look at
roads...
Can we Learn from Bogota’s Experience?
“A citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30,000 car”
YES! We c...
1) Build Bicycle Paths
A great bicycle path network makes it easy and safe for anyone to use,
young or old. Cycle paths ca...
2) Build Other Bicycle Infrastructure
• It’s not just about kilometers and miles of cycle roads. Who will use them?
How wi...
3) Inspire and Have Fun
Ciclovia happens once a week in Bogota, every Sunday between 7am and
2pm. 120km of roads are shut ...
RGV Context
• 38.8 % of the RGV people is obese (ranked 1st nationwide).
• 90% of RGV transportation is individual car usa...
How to Deal with the RGV Problems
Penalosa feels that 5 key elements will drive change in
urban communities such as the RG...
1) Sense of Urgency
With growing urbanization, climate change and rising oil
costs, people and their governments must act ...
2) Political Will
Politicians need to have guts and be willing to take risks.
“They must understand that the general inter...
3) Doers in the Public Sector
Government bureaucrats need to remind themselves that
they are paid to get things done. A pl...
4) Leadership
“Behind every good public action there is always a leader.”
5) Public Participation
“Citizens can no longer be spectators. Citizens need to
participate.” Send emails, make phone call...
In Conclusion
The solutions to our city’s problems are not impossible. They’ve already been
solved elsewhere. Our biggest ...
Therefore, it’s up to us if we want the RGV to become a
better place to live happy, healthy and prosperous. We
have many e...
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Gil Penalosa at UTPA

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On November 27th, 2012, green urban planner and infrastructure specialist, Gil Penalosa, came to UTPA to discuss how to make the Rio Grande Valley a “lively city built around people and communities”. Creating presentations about events on campus was part of my job as academic mentor for the Sophomore Academic Mentoring program at the University of Texas – Pan American. The intention of this presentation was to provide my SAM protégés (assigned sophomore students with the same major as me) a brief summary about this event held on campus. In the presentation, anyone will learn about the importance of creating a network of sidewalks and bike routes in any city or town. In addition, a series of samples which he emphasized during his speech are before-and-after photos of cities that have transformed their environments by putting people first in urban planning to advance economic development, public health, environment, recreation, and mobility.

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Gil Penalosa at UTPA

  1. 1. GIL PENALOSA World-renowned green urban planner and infrastructure specialist
  2. 2. Penalosa at UTPA On November 27th, Gil Penalosa came to UTPA to discuss how to make the Rio Grande Valley “a lively city built around people and communities”. He spoke about the importance of creating a network of sidewalks and bike routes in the Valley. After that, he provided a series of samples: before-and-after photos of cities that have transformed their environments by putting people first in urban planning to advance economic development, public health, environment, recreation, and mobility.
  3. 3. Who is Gil Penalosa? • Former Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Bogotá: Led the design and development of over 200 parks. He initiated the “Ciclovia”: a car-free- Sundays program which sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 75 miles of Bogotá’s city roads every week. • Executive Director of the Canadian based NGO 8-80 Cities: Works to encourage walking and cycling as activities as well as to re-create and increase the use of underperforming parks and streets. • Senior Consultant for Danish firm Gehl Architects: Works along with architects and engineers over projects of urbanization and sustainability.
  4. 4. • In addition, Penalosa serves on the Board of Directors of City Parks Alliance, USA, and as Senior Advisor to America Walks, StreetFilms in NYC, ParticipACTION Canada and Casas GEO in Mexico.
  5. 5. • Penalosa has transformed multiple cities around the world allowing for city infrastructure to be centered around people and communities to build health, safety and economic prosperity at the local level.
  6. 6. What did Penalosa talk about at UTPA? Penalosa came to talk about how to make cities for people: to transform them into places where people want to be, stay, enjoy, and live. That night on campus, the event was both inspiring and frustrating as well as energizing and demoralizing. He showed slides from around the world. Such as examples of cities that have transformed themselves to favor people over cars: through accessible transit, multi-use public spaces and improved facilities for walking and cycling.
  7. 7. Penalosa’s Theory
  8. 8. His slides from Bogota, Colombia demonstrated equality of transit among the classes. Communities – rich or poor – were given equal treatments of sidewalks and cycling paths. In one slide he showed, the sidewalk and bike path were completed before any work to build a road had started.
  9. 9. Bogota CicloRuta Network
  10. 10. Walking and Cycling: Human Rights “Once we get our priorities (walking and cycling) dealt with, then will we look at roads”. Through his examples, he argued that everyone deserves access to great transit and safe streets. He considers these a human right. Bogota, Colombia Bike route and sidewalk are joint together so cyclists can access directly to any place as pedestrians. Roads are totally separated from bike routes and sidewalks. Thus, both cyclists and pedestrians are safe and apart from vehicles.
  11. 11. Can we Learn from Bogota’s Experience? “A citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30,000 car” YES! We can and we can also transform our RGV into a healthier, cleaner, and more sociable and eco-friendly community. It just take 3 steps: 1) Build bicycle paths. 2) Build other bicycle infrastructure. 3) Inspire and have fun. Watch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELa5CHsUepo
  12. 12. 1) Build Bicycle Paths A great bicycle path network makes it easy and safe for anyone to use, young or old. Cycle paths can come in all shapes and sizes.
  13. 13. 2) Build Other Bicycle Infrastructure • It’s not just about kilometers and miles of cycle roads. Who will use them? How will they be used? Can they be used? • A cycle path that goes from nowhere to nowhere probably won’t be used as much as a well connected, integrated system. • In Bogota, a special emphasis was put on connecting the cycle paths to their bus rapid transit system: Transmilenio. For example they installed free, convenient and secure cycle storage facilities near major bus terminals.
  14. 14. 3) Inspire and Have Fun Ciclovia happens once a week in Bogota, every Sunday between 7am and 2pm. 120km of roads are shut to cars and opened up to cyclists, walkers and people to enjoy. It’s fun, with around 30% of locals, or 2 million people, taking part. Take a look at this short video from Streetfilms if you want to watch the flavor of people enjoying themselves on the streets of Bogota: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELa5CHsUepo
  15. 15. RGV Context • 38.8 % of the RGV people is obese (ranked 1st nationwide). • 90% of RGV transportation is individual car usage. • 2/3 of the RGV population lives under poverty line.
  16. 16. How to Deal with the RGV Problems Penalosa feels that 5 key elements will drive change in urban communities such as the RGV. 1) Sense of urgency. 2) Political will. 3) Doers in the public sector. 4) Leadership. 5) Public participation.
  17. 17. 1) Sense of Urgency With growing urbanization, climate change and rising oil costs, people and their governments must act now. Los Angeles Copenhagen
  18. 18. 2) Political Will Politicians need to have guts and be willing to take risks. “They must understand that the general interests must prevail over the particular,” and do what is right for all people, not just what is right for the next election.
  19. 19. 3) Doers in the Public Sector Government bureaucrats need to remind themselves that they are paid to get things done. A planner’s job is to “find solutions to the problems, not problems to the solution.”
  20. 20. 4) Leadership “Behind every good public action there is always a leader.”
  21. 21. 5) Public Participation “Citizens can no longer be spectators. Citizens need to participate.” Send emails, make phone calls, go to public meetings and get engaged – because someone else is. That someone else is setting the agenda, and as it stands that agenda hasn’t been making the changes that cities and their people need.
  22. 22. In Conclusion The solutions to our city’s problems are not impossible. They’ve already been solved elsewhere. Our biggest obstacle: we lack a cohesive vision about what we want the city to be. For example, Vancouver sets their sights on being the world’s greenest city by 2020. By creating a bike-walk network throughout the city as well as fostering public transportation, Vancouver actually: - Is one of the healthiest and cleanest cities in the world. - Life expectancy levels increased. - Has very low levels of crime, poverty and unemployment. - Boomed the local economy as small businesses prospered. - Tourism and income increased. In fact, for several times Vancouver has been ranked 1st as the best place to live.
  23. 23. Therefore, it’s up to us if we want the RGV to become a better place to live happy, healthy and prosperous. We have many examples that can be seen in many places. Good Luck on the Finals and thank you very much for being my protégé. Whenever you need help, count on me: fgarridogarza@broncs.utpa.edu

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