The former mayor of Bogotá, Enrique Peñalosa, described during the Holcim Forum 2007, what a good city characterizes in his opinion. Some of the themes, that he mentions, were also noticed by the temporary resident of a big city in Taiwan. Therefor I decided to compare the thesis of Peñalosa with the current situation in Kaohsiung to get a better understanding of the live and development in Taiwan´s big cities. The first part will be continued:
This time "Maiden´s Prayer", composed by Tekla Badarzewska-Baranowska, is performed by a real musician and not by a Taiwanese garbage truck.
"Dammed cars! Of course, except mine ..." works only in the frame, that the government offers. When I went as a student from Dortmund (a university with incredible big and free parking lots, but regularly overcrowded, and with missing suitable urban transport connection til 1983) to ETH Hönngerberg in Zurich in the mid 1980s, I was surprised: high parking fees even for the students and no warranty to get a free place. So, it´s better to leave the car at home.
Since 1984 the H-Train with a length of 1 km connects the two campus of Dortmund university. Before there were many cars and few buses on the former village roads between the two places.
Peñalosa: “If car use is to be restricted, there must be good public transport. Transport is a social status game: From fancy cars, to trams instead of buses. Zurich is Europe’s richest city. Yet 60% of its population takes public transport every day and 20% walk or bicycle. Yet many upper middle class citizens of developing cities would not go near a bus or a subway.”
Siemens delivers Kaohsiung´s new metro trains, seen by Steve Schönemann in Hasloch, October 2, 2006 (Source: ostman82.com).
“Bicycles tend to integrate people in a more democratic manner. Bicycles are not a minor issue. They are central to the good city of the future. Bicycles are not for the poor: Denmark and the Netherlands have a higher income per capita than the United States. And nearly 40 % of their population use the bicycle daily. A protected bicycle way is a symbol of democracy. It shows that a citizen on a $ 20 bicycle is equally important as one on a $ 20,000 car. Quality sidewalks and protected bicycle paths are not cute architectural features: they are a right. Unless we believe that only those with access to a car have a right to safe individual mobility.”
“Sidewalks are the most important element of a civilized city’s infrastructure. Cars parked on sidewalks, or parking bays where there should be sidewalk, are symbols of inequality and lack of democracy. Quality sidewalks are a symbol that shows that citizens who walk are as important as those who have a car. A city that is safe and friendly to pedestrians and bicycles almost certainly is a good city.”
“Is public pedestrian space a frivolity in a developing country city facing many difficult challenges? Tourism is a pedestrian activity. Most of what provides joy and is memorable in a city are its pedestrian spaces. Most of what government at the national or local level do are MEANS to eventual wellbeing. Public pedestrian space is an END in itself. IT IS QUALITY OF LIFE ITSELF.”
“Lack of access to green spaces may become the main factor of exclusion. A good city provides many free pleasures. No child should grow farther than 3 blocks from a park.”
“Waterfronts are so unique, they should never be private and exclusive. Waterfronts should have pedestrian infrastructure, preferably without motor-vehicles alongside. This are most memorable places of a city, not its highways.”
new big project is the development of the abandoned harbour area between pier 1 and 22. When the harbour administration gave up the usage, it became the biggest pedestrian area of Kaohsiung. Here is the place where the city can change from an Asian boomtown to a real ocean capital.
“The challenge for a good city is to improve public transport and spaces for pedestrians an cyclists. Wherever people use public transport, it is rarely out of love for the environment. In a truly advanced city, rich and poor are integrated as equals in many locations and activities: transport, sidewalks, bicycle-ways, libraries, parks, cultural activities.”
British Consulate to the harbor side of Kaohsiung, that is full of chances.