Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deborah Solomon makes good

If you point out when they suck, you gotta point out when they do well. On Sunday, Deborah Solomon's weekly NY Times Magazine interview was an excellent talk with Wnrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota known for his Susan Jacobs Jane Jacobs/Scandinavian vision of urban planning. Solomon's old method, of inserting snide remarks and different questions after the fact, is gone; we can thank Ira Glass and Amy Dickinson (Ann Landers's successor) for that, since they complained when she did it to them. But beyond that change, Solomon here just asks good, sensible questions of an interesting subject. If the interview is going to run 500-600 words, I'd much rather it be with someone I've never heard of than with Henry Kissinger or Al Gore.
I wouldn’t think that sidewalks are a top priority in developing countries. The last priority. Because the priority is to make highways and roads. We are designing cities for cars, cars, cars, cars, cars... We were building much more for cars’ mobility than children’s happiness.
As mayor of Bogotá, you reclaimed the sidewalks for pedestrians by banning sidewalk parking, your most famous achievement. The most famous and the most controversial. But we started by building bicycle paths, and now 5 percent of the population, more than 350,000 people, go to work by bicycle.

Why do you think you lost your most recent bid for mayor last year? I had some huge fights when I was mayor. I was almost impeached for getting the cars off the sidewalk.
Do you see yourself as a city planner or a politician? At heart what I really am is a Colombian politician, but a bad one because I lose elections.

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Anonymous Anonymous on Tue Jun 10, 09:43:00 PM:
Did you mean JANE Jacobs?
Blogger Ben on Wed Jun 11, 08:34:00 AM:
No, Susan Jacobs, who did music on Before Night Falls and Limbo.