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​Gil Peñalosa believes that with Rea Vaya, Joburg is moving in the right direction towards creating a vibrant city and healthy communities.
REA Vaya is a step in the right direction towards creating a walkable environment in the CBD and Braamfontein, with its numerous stations within walking distance of places of work and other destinations.

Gil PenalosaGil Penalosa, head of 8-80 Cities (photo, Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)This is the belief of Gil Peñalosa, the head of 8 - 80 Cities, who was in Joburg to speak about why streets matter to cities. He made his presentation at an event on 15 May at the Apartheid Museum in Ormonde.

As a non-profit organisation based in Canada, 8 - 80 Cities contributes to the creation of vibrant cities and healthy communities, where residents live happier lives and enjoy great public places. The organisation works throughout the world and provides assistance through a range of services in an attempt to meet the diverse needs of the global public.

At the top of the organisation is Peñalosa, 8 - 80 Cities’ executive director, whose approach is to engage communities and inspire the creation of cities that are easily accessible, safe and enjoyable for all.

At the event were Joburg’s portfolio head of transport, Rehana Moosajee, and her team, as well as members of the media. He encouraged his listeners to think about the city in which they lived.

He posed several questions, such as do children walk or bike to school; does it take less than 10 minutes to get to the grocery store, coffee shop, book store, public transport; are there parks within walking distance of your home; and in parks, streets and other public space, do people of all ages seem to be enjoying themselves and each other’s company?

MMC Rehana Moosajee listens attentively (Photo: Enoch lehung, City of Johannesburg)The City making huge strides in improving transport, says Gill Penalosa (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Peñalosa is an internationally renowned liveable city adviser and social marketing strategist who is passionate about improving the quality of life for all by promoting walking and cycling as well as by creating and using city parks.

He commended the City’s transport department for its attempts to improve transport in Joburg, and for travelling abroad and collecting best practices to bring back to the city.

A pilot concept that has been well received in Bogotá, in Colombia was also discussed during the presentation. The “new Ciclovia”, or car-free Sundays, is a weekly programme in the South American city, with more than 1.3 million people walking, running, skating and biking along 121 kilometres of road.

Apart from his work at 8 - 80 Cities, Peñalosa is a senior consultant for the Danish firm, Gehl Architects, and serves on the boards of directors of American Trails, Ciclovias of the Americas, and City Parks Alliance.

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Rea Vaya