The Avenida Paulista Ciclovia opened on Sunday, June 28th with a ceremony attended by São Paulo's Mayor Fernando Haddad and the Municipal Secretary of Transportation, Jilmar Tatto. From 10 AM to 5 PM, the street was closed to transit in both directions.
A little before the opening, around 9 AM, cyclists were already pedaling in the Ciclovia, and some people brought white balloons. Bikes were placed in several points to commemorate fallen cyclists.
The Municipal Secretary of Education, Gabriel Chalita, stated that the Ciclovia is an initiative that takes some time for people to get used to, and until then it will have some critics. “The youth look favorably on this new project and want to reallocate the space in the City. They do not want to own a car.”
The Ciclovia is 2.7 km in length (roughly 1.7 miles) and is constructed in the central median of the road. It is situated between Praça Oswaldo Cruz and Avenida Angélica. The Ciclovia is 4 meters wide (roughly 13.2 feet) and sits 18 cm above the adjacent car lanes.
The work, which lasted about six months, cost around R$ 12.2 million of public funding (3.94 million USD), on the stretch between Avenidas Paulista and Bernardino de Campos. This cost included the installation of ducts for fiber optic cables under the lane, which will be used to transmit data to the traffic signals. Unlike most Ciclovias which are colored using red paint, the Avenida Paulista ciclovia is made with a special concrete that is naturally red in color.
In recent years, Avenida Paulista has recorded at least two deaths and one severe accident involving cyclists. According to the CET, 39 cyclists were involved in accidents between 2005 and 2014.
In October of 2014, the cyclist Marlon Moreira, age 35, was killed after being struck by a bus on Avenida Paulista. Witnesses told the police that the bus was driving in the bus exclusive lane when the cyclist crossed in front of it, performing an illegal maneuver.
In March 2013, 21 year-old David Santos Sousa lost his right arm from being hit on the street. The driver, a psychology student, subsequently threw the severed arm into a nearby stream. A clinical examination done after the accident showed traces of alcohol in the driver, but concluded that he was not drunk at the time of the collision.
A year earlier, in March 2012, a 33 year-old professional cyclist was also killed from being hit by a bus on Avenida Paulista.
“We have increased the space for pedestrians in the central median. The pedestrian is given time and warnings with traffic signals,” stated Jilmar Tatto. Despite the opening of the Ciclovia, the recreational bike lane on Avenida Paulista, which is open on Sundays and holidays, will not be shut down. “I believe it’s better to leave separated. If you have a lot of people, it becomes a huge mess. The idea is to maintain the recreational lane with the pedestrians next to it,” said the Secretary of Transport.
Construction of Ciclovias is one of the main features of Mayor Haddad’s governance, who intends to deliver 400 km (roughly 249 miles) of exclusive lanes for cyclists by the end of 2015. Prior to the opening, the City had 298.6 km (186 miles), with 238.3 km (148 miles) coming during Haddad’s term. After the new Ciclovia opened, the total came to 307.4 km (191 miles). See the original article here to view a map of São Paulo's current Ciclovia network.
“The Ciclovia is a truly important work for us and one which will connect the north-south corridor. Many citizens of São Paulo travel on Avenida Paulista. It is also important for allowing bikers to travel safely,” stated cyclist Odir Züge Junior, who is also a member of the Municipal Transit Council.
Increase of Cycling
According to research on bicycle volume in São Paulo performed by the Traffic Engineering Company (CET), the number of cyclists on Avenida Paulista upon the creation of cycle lanes rose by 51% in the morning period between 7 AM and 10 AM.
According to Jilmar Tatto, the decrease in the speed limit for vehicles incentivized the use of the street by bikes. “Of course were not using the Ciclovia, which was still under construction, but the traffic lanes. In the way that the work occurred, it reduced the speed of the cars, which stimulated and encouraged cyclists to use Paulista,” he stated.
Does your city have bike lanes? What about bike-exclusive lanes? If so, how well are they utilized, and could more be done to improve safety? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.
Credits: Data and images linked to sources.