Penalosa Challenges Conventional Thinking

By Thom Oommen
Published February 19, 2008

First, Mayor Fred shocked Hamilton by calling for a pedestrian-focused and car-free downtown core. Then Terry Cooke called for an end to Hamilton's confusing and community-killing maze of one-way streets.

Who knows what will be suggested next? Has the world gone crazy?

The next step will likely be a free public lecture on Monday February 25 at 7:00 pm at the Hamilton Convention Centre.

Gil Penalosa has been putting pedestrians and cyclists first for years. As Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogota in Colombia, Gil was essential in launching the Cyclovia, a network of streets closed to private vehicles but open to walking, cycling, rollerblading and street life.

In challenging conventional thinking, he discovered that "opening" the streets was good for community, fitness, air quality, climate change and the economy.

How can Hamilton learn from this and other examples? What could our city look like if we put walking and cycling first? Come out on Monday night and find out.

Thom Oommen is passionate about building truly sustainable communities. But far from technological solutions and other flights of fancy, he believes that the only way to build a just and ecologically responsible community is to embrace frugality and simplicity. He is currently focusing on actively learning the skills that will enable him and his community to face an unknown future with a measure of confidence. Check out his blog.


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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted February 26, 2008 at 19:33:19

I've been to quite a few lectures in the last year and always there was something underwhelming about them.

Not with yesterday's lecture. Gil is an eternal optimist, but goal oriented and practical. The lecture was inspiring and surprising to see what has and is being done all over the world, sometimes at an unbelievable pace of change.

The best question asked of him: "when you came to Canada, what surprised you most"?

Gil's reply, "I was surprised at how much your politicians respond to the squeaky wheel when they are obviously a small interest group that do not represent the general interest of the people".

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 26, 2008 at 22:26:31

sadly, in Hamilton the squeaky wheel DOES represent the general interest of the people. Or more specifically, the free-flowing, un-squeaky wheel.

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