Sustainable transport growing in three major Latin American cities

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is very encouraging to see, particularly as someone whose initial public health training was in
Photo credit: Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz/Leticia Ferreira, Wikimedia Commons
environmental health. So much of the energy in global health and development is focused on communicable diseases like STIs and vaccine-preventable diseases that issues related to the built environment are often overlooked. Now that chronic diseases are emerging as a major burden in developing countries, environmental health is getting a little bit more attention, particularly when it comes to things like air pollution and its relationship to cancer and respiratory conditions, but traffic is becoming a serious problem. It is nice to see megacities like Mexico City and Buenos Aires increasing bicycle lanes and efficient bus routes.
Sustainable transport grew in the Latin American cities of Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

The left-wing government of the Mexican capital inaugurated the fifth Metrobús bus rapid transit (BRT) system route and extended the Ecobici Individual Transport System.

It also expanded the Ecoparq parking meter system – a new parking management scheme – into new areas on the west side of the city and opened up a new pedestrian-only street in the old city.

In the Argentine capital, meanwhile, the third Metrobús line began to operate with great success on Avenida 9 de Julio, and the government expanded its “Buenos Aires, mejor en bici” (Buenos Aires, Better by Bike) programme.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the centre-right city government forged ahead with the construction of the Transcarioca and Transbrasil BRT corridors, while the second stage of the Transoeste BRT project got underway.

The network of bicycle paths was also enlarged, as part of the infrastructure planned for the FIFA World Cup, to be held in Brazil from Jun. 12 to Jul. 13, and the 2016 Olympic summer games in Rio de Janeiro.

In Mexico City, “there have been interesting projects, but they haven’t been carried out at the desired speed,” Bernardo Baranda, Latin America director for the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), told IPS.

He called for more initiatives and said they should be more rapidly implemented, aimed at “a further reduction of the use of automobiles” in greater Mexico City, home to more than 20 million people.

As part of that objective, he said it was important to expand Ecobici, which includes exclusive and non-exclusive bike lanes as well as a bike-share system.

What is happening in greater Rio de Janeiro, population 11.7 million, “is very exciting,” he said. “A great deal has been invested in infrastructure. Bicycle use has expanded. The centre has great potential for better transport conditions.”
As a side note, I particularly like Inter Press Service's coverage and reporting style. I find that they tend to explore their stories in a more in-depth way, and they cover stories and countries that don't normally see a lot of press (e.g., the Solomon Islands). In fact, I also saw a story by them this morning on the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI) in Chile, which is launching an institute for female small farmers to teach agroecology.

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