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Most Dangerous Favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is First...

Most Dangerous Favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is First to Build Bike Lanes

Last month, the city launched the construction of a ciclovia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Maré Favela. The new route, which is set to open in 2016, will connect the community to the stations of the TransCarioca BRT as far as Fundão, and the future TransBrasil BRT (still currently under construction). In total, there will

Maré Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Last month, the city launched the construction of a ciclovia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's Maré Favela. The new route, which is set to open in 2016, will connect the community to the stations of the TransCarioca BRT as far as Fundão, and the future TransBrasil BRT (still currently under construction). In total, there will be 22 kilometers of exclusive or shared bike lanes, which will cost an estimated R$7 million (2.3 million USD), as reported by the journalist Ancelmo Gois. During the inauguration event, Mayor Eduardo Paes stated that the ciclovia is, in reality, symbolic since a good portion of the local population uses bikes daily.

“The ciclovia is symbolic -- it has existed only for those in the wealthy South Zone for recreation. We are inverting this logic by giving the ciclovia to the worker. We are not merely stimulating the use of bicycles, because there already exists a large population in Maré that use bicycles without the support of official authority ,” the Mayor stated.

The idea to build a ciclovia in the Maré complex came from the residents themselves. When the government resolved to listen to the requests of neighborhood associations, they began discussions that lasted almost a year. It was through these conversations that the map of the ciclovia was defined, along with locations of two thousand bike rack installations.

Mayor Eduardo Paes meets with residents of Maré about the new cycle lanes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

First Ciclovia in A Favela

According to the Municipal Secretary of the Environment, Altamirando Moraes, the implementation of the ciclovia in the community achieves two objectives. It internally helps to organize transit and the use of bicycles. Beyond this, it will help the residents access locations outside their community, connecting the Maré complex to BRT lines, Bonsucesso (which has a train station), and Fundão (commercial center and location of  the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro).

“When they need a shopping center, the majority of the residents go to Bonsucesso. About 25% of the complex’s population works in Fundão in cleaning services and civil construction,” confirmed the secretary.

According to Altamirando, the choice for Maré to be the first favela in the city with a mobility plan for bikes was motivated by the local geography: “The people who mostly use bikes are in the communities. In more vertical favelas, the bikes remain at the base of the neighborhood. But Maré is flat -- ideal terrain for a ciclovia.”

With 380 km, Rio de Janeiro is the city with the largest network of ciclovias in Latin America. The city has promised to reach 450 km of cycle networks by 2016.

Signs to be installed with the cycle lanes.

The Complex Remains Occupied by Armed Forces

About 130,000 people live in Maré -- a complex with 16 communities located in the North Zone between two major expressways of the city, the Linha Vermelha and Avenida Brasil. Occupation in Maré, by 2,700 members of the military, began on April 5, 2014. The occupation period, which originally was intended to last only until the end of last year, was extended until June of this year. Despite the military presence, conflicts have been frequent in the region, which is considered one of the most dangerous in Rio de Janeiro.

Do you think bike lanes lead to safer communities? Have bike lanes enhanced economic activity in your community? Share your stories and thoughts 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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