City Turns Into a Social Experiment

Antanas Mockus resigned from his job at Colombian National University and began looking for a challenge. Having no political experience, he ran for Mayor of Bogotá and was successful, mainly because people in Colombia’s capital city saw him as an honest man. With an educator’s inventiveness, Mockus turned Bogotá into a social experiment. Faced with a notoriously corrupt traffic police, sky-high traffic fatality rates, and chaos on the roads, Mockus took bold and audacious action: He disbanded corrupt cops and offered to retrain and hire them as mimes. Using creative education techniques, the traffic mimes fanned out through the city, mocking lawbreakers, applauding courteous drivers, and dramatizing the frustrations and challenges of citizens moving through traffic. The result: a 50% drop in traffic fatalities, reduced traffic gridlock, and a marked shift in the traffic culture of the city. What Mockus discovered — as his name suggests — is that people would rather obey traffic laws than be mocked.