For him and his wife, improving the quality of urban life has a basis in new city models, "more human, more articulated, thinking of people as an integrating axis." That is, to promote a humanistic urbanism that revolutionizes the cities of cars and skyscrapers towards a place of people for the people, through the prohibition - or restriction - of cars in urban centers and converting public space into a "room of be ”of a city.
In his words, “We have always built cities based on space, thinking about how citizens would inhabit that space. Currently there are two ideologies that have negatively influenced urban planning: modernism, when the interest of cities is focused on creating individual buildings of star architects-artists instead of creating spaces for people; and the invasion of cars, when urban spaces are created for cars and not for citizens. Both aspects have completely ruined the sense of human scale and livability of our cities. ” For this reason, for him, architecture should “be conceived solely and exclusively as an interaction between form and life. Just like the cities. […] It is not about placing buildings and streets, but about provoking the interaction that is generated between the lives of its citizens and the spaces between buildings. "
In this way "citizens will adopt the behavior that the city offers them to adopt." According to him, “The more wide streets you get, the more traffic you get. Emblematic buildings attract external tourism. Public spaces in conditions and open encourages interaction between neighbors. Cities that provide spaces for walking and bicycle lanes end up having a healthier population. " Otherwise, a city with priority on cars and “six-way streets, avenues without shadows, without trees” and traffic “like water, goes where it can. And when it can't go somewhere, it stops. "
He calls "urban acupuncture" the act of "implementing small urban interventions and observing how they affect the interactions between their citizens", proposing that these "urban changes facilitate that life sprout and flourish." Examples of its effectiveness abound: Times Square pays tribute to Gehl by pedestrianizing New York and installing bicycle lanes in large Latin American cities. In other words, "urban acupuncture" promotes designing cities "on a human scale" so that people can access sites on foot and by bicycle; In order to "not only increase the life expectancy of the population significantly, but also achieve a much cheaper health system since people would be healthier and depend less on hospitals."
As a result, pollution levels would be considerably reduced and the sustainability and health of the population would significantly increase: “Many cities around the world, small and large, with or without resources, have had relative success driving cars out of cities. If cycling is attractive, people will use it. If public transport works well, people will use it. The aim is for these systems to become a better alternative to your private car. "