The “Calle Ejemplar” is a citizen-led initiative, whose main goal is to temporarily redistribute space in a specific street, so that it can be democratically shared: wider sidewalks, biking infrastructure, well-organized parking spaces and narrower roadways that reduce speed. By transforming specific areas of the street, more public space is guaranteed and available for people to enjoy.

Francisco Pailliè Pérez, Bucaramanga, Colombia

In the last decades, streets (and in general, public space) have been transformed in order to allocate traffic, widening streets, building urban highways, and more critically, privatizing what once was for all of us. Pedestrians can no longer linger through their cities, because they have been segregated to small sidewalks and dangerous crosswalks or “zebras”. Colombia is not an exception, and as a developing country, presents more dramatic numbers since more than half of the space, infrastructure and budget is dedicated to a minority: those who own private automobiles.

The “Calle Ejemplar” (Exemplary Street) is a citizen-led initiative, whose main goal is to temporarily redistribute space in a specific street, so that it can be democratically shared, through wider sidewalks, biking infrastructure, well-organized parking spaces and narrower roadways that reduce speed. By empowering neighbors to transfer specific areas of the street, more public space is guaranteed and available for everyone to enjoy!

Our pilot project was implemented in Bucaramanga, Colombia with a prize awarded by La Ciudad Verde and UN Habitat during the World Urban Forum in Medellin; this particular city currently has huge traffic congestion issues, as well as an excessive usage of private cars and motorcycles. We are sure that if streets offered more safe and pleasant modes of transportation, an important physical and cultural transformation would emerge.

With such temporary interventions, and neighbors involvement, we hope that streets can be transformed in a more permanent way with the support of other stakeholders, as well as be replicated in other parts of the city, and elsewhere.

From all the information gathered from the pilot project, dérive LAB created a toolkit available for download, that consists of 10 steps of transformation, that go from evaluation, to proposal and finally execution, in a way that every neighbor in every city of the world can transform a street, so that pedestrians, cyclists and everyone can enjoy it! Streets are public spaces.

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