LYKKE, IN SEARCH OF THE WORLD’S HAPPIEST POEPLE
Meik Wiking is the director of the International Institute of Studies on Happiness, in addition to being the author of the best seller Hygge, Enjoy The Little things, manual that made us fall in love even more with Nordic life. Now he comes back to seduce us again with The Little Book of Lykke, in search for the World’s happiest people.
In this new book, Meik Wiking, includes the CICLOVÍA of Bogotá among the projects that contribute to the happiness of people living in the city.
A study by the University of Glasgow quoted in Lykke states that going to work by bicycle reduces the risk of premature death by 41%. Consequently, those who do have around 45% less risk of developing cancer or cardiovascular disease.
"It's not a coincidence either that most of the cities that compete for the title of the best place to live in the Monocle and Mercer rankings are also among the best cities to ride a bike," Wiking notes.
With this last statement, it's easy for our minds to automatically travel to Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam ... and, of course, Copenhagen. But, what is not so usual is to have it wonder off to Bogotá, where they have "some public spaces that are even the envy of the people from Copenhagen," according to the author.
They are intended to work as "social mixers," outside the hierarchies that govern our daily lives. The reason? Avoiding the biggest obstacle to happiness, which, according to Wiking, is "feeling inferior or excluded". "A good city doesn’t make its people feel that way".
This idea of Bogotá's public space is an initiative by the Peñalosa brothers. Guillermo is a councilor and Enrique, Mayor of Bogotá. This is how the first one speaks: "Improving the walkability to move around and ride a bicycle shows respect for human dignity, it's like saying to people: 'You are important, and not because you're rich, but because you are human.' If people are treated as special, as if they were sacred, they behave accordingly. We need to walk as birds need to fly, so creating public spaces is one of the paths that leads towards not only being a more equitable, but also happier society."
The product of this philosophy was born out of one of the most ambitious projects of the Colombian capital, Ciclovía, which since 1974 has been providing the people with around 100 kilometers of streets cut off from traffic on Sundays and holidays. Then, the entire city becomes areas for walking, cycling and playing, used by more than a million and a half people.