OP-ED: On their own but not alone by Ivan de La Lanza

Author: Ivan de La Lanza

“I’m looking forward to the day when my children will share in the wealth of our lovely South Africa” Lilian Ngoyi

This is one of many fantastic quotes that all of the fortunate assistants to the EcoMobility Festival had the chance to read several times in the lunch area.

Every time I read this quote thought of the similarities and contrasts between our countries and cities: the warm people, the easy smile in every corner and the ancient legacy reflected in the strong voices claiming for human rights to restore human scale in big cities like Joburg or Mexico City.

What I learned from the EcoMobility Festival and Johannesburg in general talking, walking and cycling the city is a lesson about the new democracy and social participation through hope and freedom, it’s the spirit of new changes achieved and new changes to come by new generations, who refused to start a social revolution paying with blood or to wait until death for the results.

Johannesburg and Mexico City, and many other cities around the world, have started a mobility revolution, who transform not only the cities by themselves but also brings associated benefits like equity, democracy, human scale, community engagement, healthier, safer streets for children and sustainable solutions to urgent climate change matters.

Mexico City has a recent sustainable mobility revolution that has brought benefits for the city and their citizens, and the most important thing: the possibility of shift mobility paradigms and social behavior through integrated transport systems.

The bicycle mobility strategy has been a great example of this, cycling has been a social participation tool that has changed mobility habits in a car oriented society. It has also started social movements, common visions and social participation to build more participatory development process.

I see in Johannesburg the rising “momentum” to create a new pattern of sustainable mobility through freedom, social capacity and hope in their very own South African way, this is what I learned but also what I brought with me to Mexico City, the message that changes are rising around the world on their own but definitely not alone.