The secrets of the world’s happiest cities

Two bodyguards trotted behind Enrique Peñalosa, their pistols jostling in holsters. There was nothing remarkable about that, given his profession – and his locale. Peñalosa was a politician on yet another campaign, and this was Bogotá, a city with a reputation for kidnapping and assassination. What was unusual was this: Peñalosa didn’t climb into the armoured SUV. Instead, he hopped on a mountain bike. His bodyguards and I pedalled madly behind, like a throng of teenagers in the wake of a rock star.

A few years earlier, this ride would have been a radical and – in the opinion of many Bogotáns – suicidal act. If you wanted to be assaulted, asphyxiated by exhaust fumes or run over, the city’s streets were the place to be. But Peñalosa insisted that things had changed. “We’re living an experiment,” he yelled back at me. “We might not be able to fix the economy. But we can design the city to give people dignity, to make them feel rich. The city can make them happier.”

More information: theguardian.com

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