New perspectives for the New Urban Mobility Economy in Brazil
“The New Urban Mobility Economy” seminar, co-organized by EMBARQ Brasil, WRI Brasil, and Caronetas, brought together transport experts from Brazil and abroad to discuss new perspectives, solutions and challenges on urban mobility in Brazilian cities. The event was held on September 26, 2014, and officially closed São Paulo’s Virada da Mobilidade, a week dedicated to exploring new solutions for intelligent and sustainable urban mobility in megacities. The seminar also featured the official launch of Concurso 3 Estações, a challenge for architects and urbanists to develop new ideas for the public space around three major train stations in the Rio Pinheiros neighborhood of São Paulo.
“Urban mobility is one of the greatest challenges humanity faces today,” warned Rachel Biderman, Director of WRI Brasil. “But at the same time it creates opportunities. Urban mobility must enter the political, economic and financial agenda and be at the heart of policy making,” she said.
Brenda Medeiros, EMBARQ Brasil’s Transport Projects Manager, added that Brazilian conservatism has inhibited ambitious urban mobility policy approaches. “I hear people saying that we are not Copenhagen. But why can’t we learn from them? Brazilians are creative, so we are able to understand what has been done in cities that showcase mobility to learn and implement the best practices,” she said. Major Brazilian cities like Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte have achieved results – with technical support from EMBARQ Brasil – that set international standards and benefit millions of people daily.
Concurso 3 Estações: A shift in thinking for urban mobility
Concurso 3 Estações officially launched at the Virada da Mobilidade. This challenge for architects and urbanists is co-led by EMBARQ Brasil and USP Cidades with support from Plataforma Conexões Rio Pinheiros. Winning designs will incorporate principles of active transport and accessibility to transform the areas around the Olimpia, Paulista and Santo Amaro stations, which account for 25% of the neighborhood’s rail line users.
EMBARQ Brasil and USP Cidades teams after the launching of Concurso 3 Estações. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.
"This is a contest for new ideas, but it can culminate in partnerships that can generate actual impacts for the region," said Maria Teresa Diniz of USP Cities, who launched the contest with Paula Santos Rocha, EMBARQ Brasil’s Coordinator of Transport Projects and Accessibility. “Our goal is to discover new ideas for urban design that help people to walk more, be more active, and use public spaces to promote public health," she added.
The winners of the Concurso 3 Estações contest will be unveiled on December 2, 2014, and you can follow the project here.
New metrics needed for sustainable transport
The afternoon featured the "Prospects for the New Economy of Mobility in Brazil" panel, which included experts in innovation and entrepreneurship talking about sustainable transport solutions and the role of urban data. Panelists included Adalberto Maluf, Marketing Director for Build Your Dream, Pedro Junqueira, Chief of Resilience and Operations at the Rio de Janeiro Operations Center, Pedro Monteiro, Executive Director of Compartibike, and Edmar Cioletti, Director of Santander Tower.
Natalia Garcia – a Brazilian journalist who became a sustainable mobility icon after crowdfunding more than R$ 25,000 (US$ 10,100) for the Cities for People project in 2011 – moderated the discussion.
From left to right: Edmar Cioletti, Pedro Monteiro, Pedro Junqueira, Adalberto Maluf, and Natalia Garcia discuss ways to improve sustainable mobility through urban data and more holistic analysis. Photo by Mariana Gil/EMBARQ Brasil.
“Mobility affects everyone equally because everyone needs to move. Each individual moves with a different transport mode, and that's the first problem. Everyone has their own perspective of this story,” Natalia said, highlighting that everyone comes at transport from a different angle based on their personal preferred mode. She stressed the need for better data, asking “What are the metrics cities need to make better diagnosis and make better decisions?”
Pedro Junqueira suggested measuring how much time and money is lost reacting to problems of car transport. He illustrated this problem with an example that occurred that week. "We had a motorcycle accident on the Red Line, Thursday. The driver crashed and stopped traffic, hampering rescue efforts. How can we possibly save this life, and how much do we pay through bureaucracy to rescue one person?” Maluf paraphrased Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City and current United Nations Special Envory on Cities and Climate Change, saying that "you can only manage what you can measure." In his opinion, Brazilian governments have too few metrics and indicators. He also discussed the importance of cleaner vehicle traSnsport, as highlighted by city data. "European and Chinese data shows that 30% of urban pollution comes from buses and taxis," he said. “What if we replaced these fleets with electric vehicles? It would instantly cut emissions by 30%.”
Cioletti describes how we must look at measurements more holistically. "We easily measure the financial gains from our policies for travel demand management. But we can’t measure the quality of life gained from these initiatives.” Monteiro echoed this sentiment. He mentioned that bike-share systems are typically measured based on financial success, which ignores factors such as well-being and health. “It’s lacking a holistic analysis, and instead connects all factors into one measure. In my company, we gather as much data as we can to plan for expansions, new projects and improvements. That's what makes good planning.”
Monteiro reminded the audience of the need for better planning decisions, describing how São Paulo commuters lose one month per year on traffic, or an average of 2 hours and 47 minutes per day. “Irrational decisions got us to this place," Garcia lamented. She also mentioned an interesting fact about the health effects of active transport. In Boston, a patient whose health problems are due to a sedentary lifestyle can be prescribed a bike-share membership as a remedy. The creator of Cities for People concluded with a thought about how governments can learn from private-sector thinking and better plan for predictable challenges. “It's in the DNA of the private sector to think to the future. Cities resolve recurring problems, and companies have this forward thinking-ability."
To read the full coverage of The New Urban Mobility’s Economy Seminar (in Portuguese) please visit: