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Are Bus & Bike Lanes Stealing Space from Motorists in Sã...

Are Bus & Bike Lanes Stealing Space from Motorists in São Paulo, Brazil?

The article from Sunday July 19th in the newspaper “O Estado de São Paulo,” entitled “Haddad’s leadership takes 716 km (about 445 miles) of lanes from cars,” shows a data series that gives the impression that the leader of the largest city in Brazil has declared war on individual motorized transportation. However, some of the

Highway in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The article from Sunday July 19th in the newspaper “O Estado de São Paulo,” entitled “Haddad’s leadership takes 716 km (about 445 miles) of lanes from cars,” shows a data series that gives the impression that the leader of the largest city in Brazil has declared war on individual motorized transportation.

However, some of the facts in the report require interpretation, and others are simply obfuscated. Take the title to begin with, which already makes it sound like the poor motorists cannot lose their sacred space on the street. What about other travelers, who are in fact the majority?

A survey released on August 17, 2011 by the CNI (National Confederation of Industry) in partnership with Ibope (Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics) revealed that 61% of Brazilians use collective transport for their trips, with 31% using the bus. The car appears with less than half, serving 16% of trips. (Read more).

The newspaper article also gives somewhat questionable information on the number of lanes re-purposed for public transit and ciclovias. Bike lanes were not installed in car travel lanes, but in parking lanes.

Automobiles “lose” in streets where bus-only lanes were installed. This sentence is fundamentally wrong. The correct way would be to say that the bus lanes make the streets more egalitarian. During peak hours, 78% of the main roads are dominated by automobiles, though they transport only 28% of the residents, as data from the CET revealed in 2012.

Another incorrect claim concerns the speed of the buses: “The space was given to buses, which drive more slowly through the city, at 16 km/hr.” It’s necessary to separate bus routes from the rest of the cars, and this phrase gives the impression that the structures do not help the movement of the buses. In bus lanes, the velocity increases by 68.7%. (Read here). Bus speed falls on roads without bus lanes, matching that of cars.

Ciclovia Paulista, Brazil

The article even tries to minimize bicycle use as being irrelevant.If you were to double the amount of them, their number would still be very small. What is needed is more investment in public transit,” stated the consultant and architect Flamínio Fishmann. In the first place, an investment in one does not prevent investment in the other. Investments in bikes now total around R$ 33 million. “Just one Formula Indy event would cost R$ 35 million.” said mayor Fernando Haddad. In 2012, the number of cyclists in São Paulo was greater than the number of taxis. (Read here).

The article does not mention that the new ciclovias can be inducers of demand. On Avenida Paulista alone, there were over 379% more people bicycling there after the installation of the ciclovia. (See here).

The report also does not say that in addition to being a major source of traffic in the city, the means of individual motorized transportation is the most responsible for atmospheric pollution. (Read here).

Is there tension in your city between motorists and bicyclists or bus riders? Which mode carries a larger proportion of people, and is this proportion reflected in the delegation of road space? Share your thoughts and city’s stories in the comments area below.

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

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Anna Petrone is a transportation engineering masters student at the University of Maryland, with a Bachelor in Math and Economics. Her interests lie in transportation projects located in developing countries, particularly in South America. She took a...

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