This article from the Gotham Gazette is really a summary of a talk by Enrique Peñalosa, the mayor of Bogotá from 1998 to 2001. Peñalosa talks about transportation decisions, but also about how those decisions relate to and control a society's social environment.
We have to choose between a city that is friendlier to cars or a city that is friendlier to people. I am not a car hater, but if you are with a three-year old walking next to an eight-lane highway it is clearly not a pleasant environment to be in. The slower the traffic, the narrower the streets, the wider the sidewalks, the more pleasant the city.
We started to build bikeways. In developing countries, the only means of individual transportation available to everybody is a bicycle. A bikeway in Bogotá is important maybe 20 percent because it protects cyclists, 80 percent because it is a symbol that a citizen on a $20 bicycle is equally important to one in a $30,000 car.
Around here, transportation discussions are almost always about "relieving congestion" and "increasing capacity." Discussing transportation in these terms is as absurd as if doctors confined their discussions to surgery (or to the number of leeches to be use.) There's just no way a rational solution can emerge from a discussion confined to those terms.