Urban mobility: what is it, what is it for and main problems in Brazil

Imagine spending a whole month stuck in some congestion? Terrible just thinking, is not it? But the worst of it is that you probably go through that. Yes it's true. Residents of major cities are expected to spend at least one of the twelve months of the year stuck in traffic jams.

Whether inside the car or the bus, most of the Brazilian population suffers daily from the lack of urban planning in cities. A huge waste of time and quality of life.

In today's post we will draw a complete picture on the issue of urban mobility, its importance, main problems, challenges and solutions pointed out by experts in the field. Embark on this with us, we promise that, at least this time, there will be no congestion along the way:

Urban mobility - what it is and what it is for

Urban mobility: illustration

Urban mobility can be defined as a set of guidelines designed to ensure and facilitate the movement of people and cargo within cities. In Brazil, urban mobility is a right guaranteed by the constitution.

Since 2012, the National Urban Mobility Policy created by Law No. 12,587 / 2012 establishes that cities with more than 20 thousand inhabitants must formulate a mobility plan with the objective of improving the movement of people, ensuring integration between the different types of mobility. transport and establish an affordable and fair price for them. However, only 8.5% of municipalities in the Brazilian municipalities delivered the plan, which eventually forced the federal government to extend the deadline until the end of 2018.

In theory, efficient urban mobility makes it easier for the citizen to come faster, more practical and more fluid. There would be no traffic jams, public transportation would work with quality and fair price and you would have several options of locomotion at your disposal. However, every Brazilian knows that this is not what happens here.

Municipal municipalities are responsible for urban mobility. The municipal public power has, among other obligations, to offer public transportation, to make investments for the construction of roads, viaducts, sidewalks, cycle paths and to elaborate and execute the municipal urban mobility policy, as required by law.

And each citizen is charged with the duty to observe and claim what is being done in their city and to charge local authorities with alternatives and solutions to improve urban mobility.

Data on urban mobility in Brazil

Urban mobility: what is it, what is it for and main problems in Brazil

In Brazil there is a car for every four inhabitants, that is, the country currently has a fleet of private vehicles that hits the house of 54 million, if we add to this number buses, motorcycles, trucks and other motor vehicles the general total reaches almost 98 million vehicles.

This extraordinarily high number leads us to occupy seven places in the list of the most congested cities in the world, out of a total of 165 cities. According to the website Numbeo, which specializes in comparing data between cities, the capital of Pernambuco is the city where traffic is lost, followed by the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo, which surprisingly occupies the fourth position among the cities. Brazilians - soon comes Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Brasilia. We are ahead only of countries like India and Bangladesh, internationally recognized for the chaotic traffic.

The largest automotive fleet in Brazil is concentrated in São Paulo, the state is home to about 18 million of all private vehicles in the country. Next comes Minas Gerais. The miners have a fleet of almost 6 million cars, the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo have the smallest fleet in the region with 4.5 million and 900 thousand, respectively.

The southern region appears with the second largest car fleet in the country with about 12 million. The Northeast region, although populous, concentrates only 6.6 million, a third of the total fleet in the state of São Paulo.

The North region has the smallest number of private vehicles. It is estimated a total fleet of 1.7 million.

However, it is not difficult to understand why these numbers. Brazil for many decades saw only road transport as a solution for urban mobility, encouraged even by the arrival of auto companies here.

However, with population growth and the growing demand for locomotion, it did not take long for this system to collapse. What we see today is the persistence in a retrograded mobility policy that insists on building roads and opening roads instead of betting on alternative transport systems, especially rail and rain, given the continental dimensions of the country and the extensive range coast, not to mention the large number of rivers and tributaries that cut cities and states.

Some attempts to improve mobility in cities have already been proposed, such as Rio de Janeiro, which saw large investments in the World Cup and Olympics period in order to improve the condition of urban traffic. One of the solutions was to bet on the surface meters or BRT of the English Bus Rapid Transit.

The city of Curitiba, however, is the one who pioneered this type of transportation. The BRT is a reality in the capital of Paraná and has served as inspiration for many countries in the world.

Problems and challenges of urban mobility

Traffic in São Paulo

Seeing the problems of urban mobility in Brazil is not difficult. They jump in the eyes of everyone: drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. There is much to do and rethink. And perhaps this is the big problem of urban mobility in Brazil: to continue exploring a model that is already obsolete. Betting on new alternatives and creating public policies that are really willing to solve the issue is what will make the difference.

Citizens need to feel safe and confident to leave their car at home and go to work - or whatever else - using public transport such as bus, subway or train. Or maybe even begin to use alternative means such as a bicycle.

But it is very difficult for the citizen to give up the comfort of his own car to be at the mercy of junk transports, which delay much more than they should, are super crowded and still charge a small fortune for all this.

In 2013, inclusive, Brazil lived one of its greatest popular movements triggered by the increase of the tariff of the public transport. That is, it can not deny that the country suffers a series crisis in the urban mobility system.

The use of transport applications, such as Uber, for example, has contributed to the increase of traffic in the cities, since they dispute passengers with public transport, only with an aggravating factor: while a bus carries up to 60 people, a car application takes a maximum of four.

Another major problem with the lack of urban planning, and therefore of mobility, is environmental degradation. Each more car in the streets increases air pollution and worsens people's quality of life.

In the face of so many problems, where is the solution? It seems easy to look at, but the issue of Brazilian urban mobility goes through a series of challenges that go well beyond mobility itself.

Governors who are willing to face the fight will have to face the lobbying of carmakers, speculation of companies that have rights over public transport and corruption that makes it impossible to implement the proposals made.

Quality urban mobility is mainly driven by the value of public transport. Fair tariffs, transport with comfort and quality, increase of the fleet to avoid delays and the integration as a means of facilitating the displacement.

We also have to think about the education and awareness of individuals on the issue of mobility and the genuine and committed incentive to use alternative transport, such as cycling, investing mainly in the creation of cycle paths.

Working urban mobility: examples that come from outside

Bicycles in the Netherlands

What is good must be copied. The old adage could not be better applied than in the matter of urban mobility. There is a lot of country out there giving lessons on how to make a better transit and we, from here in our green and yellow territory, can and should be inspired by these practices.

Are first world countries living a reality far from our own? Yes, it may be, but it is better to be inspired by what is working and apply as much as possible than to continue betting on what has already proven to be ineffective.

We can start by citing the Netherlands. The European country has the best urban mobility system in the world, recognized internationally. There, the common people are getting around by bicycle everywhere. The number of bikes in Amsterdam exceeds the number of inhabitants, so you have an idea. The rider is respected and has priority over cars and buses. Another positive feature of the Dutch mobility system is the ease of integration between transport. And speaking of different means of transport, the country also invests in trains, metros, electric trams and boats (which also include cyclists).

Denmark and Germany also stand out for the use of the bicycle. Today more than half of the population of the two countries makes their journeys on two wheels. In Berlin, the highlight is for the encouragement of electric cars. There are already more than eight thousand vehicles of this type in the city and about 500 stations of loads scattered through the streets.

In Zurich, in Switzerland, public transportation is preferred by the population. Buses and trams on rails cut across the city and the dweller does not pass more than 300 meters without spotting a spot. Currently, the city is focused on replacing diesel buses with electric models. The expansion of bicycle paths is also part of the local mobility plans.

But the title of pioneer city in mobility goes to London. The capital of England was the first to implement the first submarine tunnel, the first international airport and the world's first underground railway. London's transport system is marked by integration between buses, trains and bicycles. In 2010, the city launched the bicycle rental service to stimulate the use of transportation in the center.

Urban mobility in the future and sustainability

Concept of city seen from top Hong Kong

Looking at the examples that come from outside, it is easy to determine the future of urban mobility: quality public transportation and cycling. The union of these two transport models is the light at the end of the tunnel for those who believe that the chaos of Brazilian cities will not end.

Urban mobility in the future will be more linked to sustainability than ever before, especially with the use of electric transports and other renewable sources. The bicycle, another great sustainable bet, will be the most used transport in the metropolis, not to mention that the option is still a gain for health and quality of life.

Electric cars are another trend that should knock on our door soon. With the stimulus to production and the incentive to buy it will not take long for them to be seen more often.

If Brazil does the homework, just as other countries have done, we will soon be able to contemplate truly sustainable, organized, technological and, above all, pleasurable cities.

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