I’m currently reading a book entitled “Happy City” by a Canadian writer and geographer named Charles Montgomery. It’s about his research into how urban centres can be happy places for people to live in.
I’m not finished reading it yet but one of the first case studies he presents in the book has already made such an impact on me. It’s not so much that it opened my eyes, more that it actually legitimises how I’ve tried to live my life.
Montgomery talks about the city of Bogota in Colombia. It is one of the most dangerous and also most economically challenged cities in the world. One day in 1998, they elected a new mayor by the name of Enrique Penalosa.
He conducted an experiment whereby on February 1st, all private motor vehicles were banned from entering the city. The citizens participated and no one drove. Surprisingly, everyone turned up at work and in school.
They all either took public transportation or walked, and on that day, there were no road accidents, the number of hospital emergency room check-ins decreased tremendously and the citizens of Bogota actually came together for once.
They realised that the thing that made people most unhappy was commuting to work – specifically, driving through traffic to work. So, eventually, the car-free day became a regular affair in the city. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]