GDCI Street Shaper of the Month
Program Coordinator, Despacio (Bogotá, Colombia)
Daniela Gómez is a political scientist from the National University of Colombia, with a postgraduate course in Road Safety for Latin America. At Despacio, she leads initiatives to empower and train young people on issues of road safety.
Please tell us about your work on urban streets and/or mobility.
With Despacio, I led a project called “Youth influencing bicycle policy change in Bogotá,” which received the”Local Actions” award. The project’s aim was to shine light on the voices and relevance of youth in the decision making processes around increasing and improving bicycle use in Bogotá between April and November 2021.
What are the biggest mobility and/or road safety challenges in your city?
I think our biggest challenges are to improve the current quality of existing infrastructure and to reach a meaningful and active participation from the communities—mostly from youth and women—in the sustainable mobility decisions our city makes. We also need to improve our speed management system to save lives.
Tell us about an innovative urban project(s) or approach(es) that has inspired your work.
I have been inspired by two approaches: my organization’s approach, which is to “challenge the intuitive.” I think that single phrase really summarizes what we do in every project and what we promote as a vision for our cities. I also admire what the Global Youth Coalition for Road Safety is doing, which is to unite individual youth and organizations for road safety and sustainable mobility. Few times in life does one have the kind of support this Coalition provides.
What mobility, public space, or road safety improvements would you like to see in your city by 2030?
There are a lot of improvements I’d like to see: better quality infrastructure (with comfortable and accessible design), a good speed system management, way more children and women using their bikes as a means of transport (and enjoying it), adequate and safe crossings for pedestrians (hopefully no more pedestrian bridges), and a lot more decision makers committed to this cause.
What’s it like to be a pedestrian in Bogotá?
It is quite an experience… In most of the medium- and low-income neighborhoods it is really hard. My grandmother, for example, prefers to walk on the border of the car lanes instead of using the sidewalk because she is scared of failing due to the holes in it—or because there are no ramps. Due to her age, she can’t step over them if they’re too big.
A Despacio picnic in February 2021, to reflect on the ways in which young people can contribute to a better and safer environment for all.
This mural is part of a youth-led project, implemented by Despacio in 2020, which sought to express the value of every road user through artistic intervention.