If you won two weeks vacation every month, what would you do? Time is freedom. To enjoy family, to travel, go to the park, the beach, the movies, all of the activities that enrich our lives. The good news is that our city São Paulo has great weather, but we are stuck in traffic. The Urban Mobility Research Network recently produced a new publication called the Nossa São Paulo 2013, which found that Paulistanos lose about one month per year in congestion, with an average journey time of 2.4 hours per day.

One fact that stands out is that this type of displacement is not necessarily due to the amount of cars in São Paulo, because only 40% of people use a private car for transportation, although that is still a high rate. This reinforces the importance of prioritizing collective transport, such as dedicated bus lanes, and taking them away from the mixed traffic since they have the capacity to carry ten times more people than roads have the capacity for cars. Fortunately, the city has a policy to focus on public transportation, with 374 km already reserved for the operation of Dá Licença para o Ônibus (Give permission for the bus). 

Traffic in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Another survey, conducted in the host cities of the World Cup, reveals a contradiction. While most people (93%) consider public transport, walking and cycling as ideal for shifting transportation patterns in cities, 47% still say they depend on the car. The daily average commute time per person is one hour in the World Cup cities, although Curitiba has been voted the “fastest,” with a fifty-two minutes per day average.

In Belo Horizonte, for example, the same study shows that people lose one day a month sitting in traffic. It is worth noting that, in the past five years, 33% of respondents changed their travel habits; of these, 67% migrated from using public transport to driving private cars, while only 24% did the opposite. It is also worth underlining that the state capital of Brasilia has inaugurated its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, called the Move, which already has two corridors in operation and was the main transportation service to the World Cup games in Mineirão stadium. It integrates a network of four dedicated corridors whose length each totals 23 kilometers.

The BRT system in Brasilia.

Another element that can improve the efficiency of transport and the quality of life in cities is transit oriented development (TOD), which is nothing more than policies that encourage greater urban densification – housing, trade and services – which are located in proximity to public transport stations and intermodal terminals. By promoting TOD, you can reduce, somewhat, the kilometers traveled by car, saving time for people.

Remember that time is only one of the variables that transportation impacts. If you think about the environmental, social, economic and human health benefits, our desire to see cities become good examples for sustainable urban mobility increases even more.

What measures is your city taking to improve urban mobility? Share your city’s innovations in the comments below.

Original article, originally published in Portuguese, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.