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Residents of São Paulo, Paulistanos, Lose One Month Per ...

Residents of São Paulo, Paulistanos, Lose One Month Per Year Sitting in Traffic

If you won two weeks vacation every month, what would you do? Time is freedom. To enjoy family, to travel, go to the park, the beach, the movies, all of the activities that enrich our lives. The good news is that our city São Paulo has great weather, but we are stuck in traffic. The Urban Mobility Research

If you won two weeks vacation every month, what would you do? Time is freedom. To enjoy family, to travel, go to the park, the beach, the movies, all of the activities that enrich our lives. The good news is that our city São Paulo has great weather, but we are stuck in traffic. The Urban Mobility Research Network recently produced a new publication called the Nossa São Paulo 2013, which found that Paulistanos lose about one month per year in congestion, with an average journey time of 2.4 hours per day.

One fact that stands out is that this type of displacement is not necessarily due to the amount of cars in São Paulo, because only 40% of people use a private car for transportation, although that is still a high rate. This reinforces the importance of prioritizing collective transport, such as dedicated bus lanes, and taking them away from the mixed traffic since they have the capacity to carry ten times more people than roads have the capacity for cars. Fortunately, the city has a policy to focus on public transportation, with 374 km already reserved for the operation of Dá Licença para o Ônibus (Give permission for the bus). 

Traffic in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Another survey, conducted in the host cities of the World Cup, reveals a contradiction. While most people (93%) consider public transport, walking and cycling as ideal for shifting transportation patterns in cities, 47% still say they depend on the car. The daily average commute time per person is one hour in the World Cup cities, although Curitiba has been voted the "fastest," with a fifty-two minutes per day average.

In Belo Horizonte, for example, the same study shows that people lose one day a month sitting in traffic. It is worth noting that, in the past five years, 33% of respondents changed their travel habits; of these, 67% migrated from using public transport to driving private cars, while only 24% did the opposite. It is also worth underlining that the state capital of Brasilia has inaugurated its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, called the Move, which already has two corridors in operation and was the main transportation service to the World Cup games in Mineirão stadium. It integrates a network of four dedicated corridors whose length each totals 23 kilometers.

The BRT system in Brasilia.

Another element that can improve the efficiency of transport and the quality of life in cities is transit oriented development (TOD), which is nothing more than policies that encourage greater urban densification - housing, trade and services - which are located in proximity to public transport stations and intermodal terminals. By promoting TOD, you can reduce, somewhat, the kilometers traveled by car, saving time for people.

Remember that time is only one of the variables that transportation impacts. If you think about the environmental, social, economic and human health benefits, our desire to see cities become good examples for sustainable urban mobility increases even more.

What measures is your city taking to improve urban mobility? Share your city's innovations in the comments below.

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Nora grew up surrounded by the varied architectural styles and geographies of the Southwest U.S. After graduating from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Latin American Studies and Geography, Nora moved to Wash...

  • It is really interesting how innovation efforts are so strangely directed at the less effective areas and other areas are left alone. The car industry is using gazillions to produce a vehicle that consumers will buy. A motor that is less fuel thirsty, and doors that make a sound the owner likes. They are all targeting our lowest and most instinctive feelings. In Bergen, Norway we hit peak car ( in March this year. For the first time since 1960 the traffic did not rise. Car sales are the same or on upwards trend, but car usage goes down. Innovation is now looking at the entire commute of the people and not just at one element at the time. Busses and other public transport has better options for parking your bike and bringing your bike. The schedule is on apps and also ticketing happens on your iPhone and Android. On the road we are now looking at how many seats are actually used in each car and the answer is 1,17 people in each five seat vehicle. That´s 19 out of 20 passenger seats empty! In what other area of life would we accept such a waste? Would you buy and throw out again 19 out of 20 milk cartons next to the one you actually drink yourself? It would be an immense waste. When this is the fact with private cars, it affects our needs for more roads and all the time lost in traffic. In Bergen Norway every car has at the moment 6 parking places available. Does not seem like it, but they are waiting for you somewhere. We decided to do something about all these available seats and use them. In a business park we introduced an app to offer those seats to colleagues and neighbours. The app is called Carma Carpooling and has caught on by the users leading up to the registration by 1600 users in Bergen (250 000 inhabitants). We had no illusions that the app would hit on by the masses in the beginning. People are too proud of their car and do not grasp new ideas by just hearing about it. We needed to show by enthusiasts in the beginning in each company affiliated, and then increase activity step by step. Using this method we are now looking at 18 000 trips performed in the app Carma. For the 22 ambassadors it has been great to witness the change of their colleague’s attitude after PERFORMING the action of carpooling other than just hearing about the concept. If asked “Would you post images of your child´s birthday on the internet or yourself pouring a bucket of ice over your head? They would say no, two years ago. Today they are doing so in Facebook and Twitter and also describing their commute and offer the available seats to their network on Carma Carpooling. Just my thoughts as a transport activist in Bergen, Norway.

  • Thank you for your insight Kristian, it is great to hear your perspective. The Carma Carpooling program sounds quite successful and it will be interesting to see if the city of São Paulo, or other cities in Brazil, create similar car sharing programs.

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