The local flavor of mobility in São Paulo

Improving safety for bicyclists is a major concern of São Paulo locals. Photo by Paulo Fehlauer.

Innovative and sustainable urban mobility is in the spotlight this week in São Paulo, Brazil, after the Virada Da Mobilidade (Turn of Mobility) alternative transport festival concluded yesterday. The good news from São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, is that bicycles and public bus transport systems are emerging as top players on city streets – including bike sharing systems and dedicated bus lanes. However, locals have plenty of suggestions for how the city can still improve its transport infrastructure to make it easier for residents to incorporate sustainable mobility options into their daily lives.

Hitting the streets during Turn of Mobility events between September 17 and September 23, TheCityFix Brasil team asked São Paulo locals what their ideal city to live in would be like. Although the residents’ responses were varied, the overarching theme of their comments indicates a great public desire for higher quality integrated transport options.

Here’s what some residents had to say.

“As a car user, I would like to see more parking available near the metro so I can take advantage of both systems. It would help me come and go more easily if there was better connectivity between different modes of transport.” Angelica Ribeiro, 40, manager 

“We have very few bike lanes compared to the actual size of the city. For example, to return our shared bikes we have to go all the way to the other side of Ibirapuera Park. I use my private car everday because the roads don’t provide safe conditions for cyclists. There is a great risk of accidents and poor infrastructure for cyclists in the workplace – like showers and changing rooms. As for the bus, the quality of service must be improved.” Luis Villardo, 36, sales representative

Villardo family

Villardo and his two children use the bike share system sparingly, due to the uncertainty of cycling on the streets. Photo by Luisa Zottis.

“I’d like to see a city with more public transport lanes, buses circling the city 24 hours a day, and more bike paths. Designated motorcycle lanes would also be an interesting way to reduce accidents in São Paulo. I believe that the right proposals are on the table, but take too long to get off the ground.” Assumption Raul, 22, journalist

Raul cycles in park

Raul is an avid user of public transport, and a cyclist. Photo by Luisa Zottis.

“I want more respect for pedestrians and cyclists; that’s why I cling to my bike. I also use the bus – we need more people taking public transport and less traffic. It takes me two hours to get to and from [the central area] Interlagos.” Paula Telles, 27, systems analyst 

“What’s missing in this city is infrastructure for bikes. The situation is improving, but it’s still disrespectful to cyclists. Having all the options of a bus, bicycle, and subway is amazing, but the structure could still be improved. Here in the metro, I have to carry my bike downstairs on my shoulder because [the planners] didn’t think about it. An older person might not be able to do that. But I still cycle every time I leave the house, and do not intend to stop. It’s not impossible to walk, but that’s another difficulty because of the poor quality of the sidewalks. What about people in wheelchairs? It’s tricky.” Fernanda Machado, 28, designer

Machado in subway

Machado waiting for the subway at Faria Lima station on Line 4 – Yellow. Photo by Luisa Zottis.

The concerns of these São Paulo locals regarding the safety and quality of public transport systems have been echoed recently in other cities in Latin America, and it’s no secret that Brazil faces significant infrastructure challenges. What’s important is that citizens in São Paulo and beyond are calling for change to the status quo of urban gridlock. Through creative, collaborative actions like the Turn of Mobility festival, urban residents everywhere can move forward towards making sustainable transport options a reality in their cities.

This post is based on a post originally published on TheCityFixBrasil by Luisa Zottis.

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