Gil Penalosa, the former Commissioner of Parks, Sport, and Recreation for the City of Bogota Columbia, will be speaking at two separate events on Thursday, October 15 and Friday October 16. Gil is the Executive Director of Walk and Bike for Life based out of Ontario, Canada. He has also been credited for creating and popularizing Bogota's Ciclovia.
Without enough city funds to expand parks and open spaces for Bogota's population of 7 million, he decided to close selected streets on Sunday mornings to cars and open them up to pedestrians, cyclists, and runners. The idea soon spread and cities such as Mexico City, Montreal, Paris, Guadalajara, New York, Portland, and of course San Francisco now host a form of Ciclovia, also known as Sunday Streets. The Bogota Ciclovia has been chronicled in a video produced by StreeFilms of New York.
I first heard Gil's positive and passionate talk on the need for more public spaces at an international conference in Portland, Oregon, where he also consulted with the city in creating one of the first Ciclovias in the United States. With all that is happening in the San Francisco Bay Area in the next 10 years; the BART extension, High Speed Rail, the electrification of Caltrain, the transformation of the Alameda and El Camino Real, as well as the remake of the Diridon station, Gil's visit is definitely timely.