São Paulo Transportation and Politics

By 15:50 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I've talked about politics and society quite a bit on this blog. Especially Brazilian politics and my perceptions of what it's like living in São Paulo.

Living here, I've gone from being hopeful in trusting politicians, to becoming disheartened. But every once in a while, something brings my hope back. G always makes fun of me for this post on Dilma, where I say she's growing on me, after having appeared as one of the world's top thinkers. But this was 3 years ago, at the beginning of her presidency. And she eventually didn't grow on me completely, and our current economic state and tight political race shows why.

I am by no means supporting PT in the upcoming elections because I haven't found a candidate who is running, for any of the positions, to represent my values as a citizen, not because I fathom or favor any particular political party. However, there's someone else from Dilma's party, the PT, who's growing on me. I don't know if this respect will last for long, but I am happy with his initiatives in São Paulo. And that's the São Paulo mayor, Fernando Haddad.

The Glorious Bus Lane - photo by TvAberta

Haddad started off as a very contentious candidate, just barely winning the election, and facing the riots from June of last year in his first year as mayor, putting him in a very negative light not only in the city, but throughout the country and world. But all this negativity may have come as a blessing. He certainly has his faults, but we'll talk about what his government has helped with.

Over the past year or so, more bus lanes have been implemented and made my public transportation using life much easier. I'm getting places faster than I used to, and busses seem less crowded than they used to. It's far from perfection, but I thought this initiative was a great way to favor the majority of the population, which uses public transportation. He's also begun to implement permanent bike lanes where parking spots currently are, and in the middle of some of the major avenues, encouraging the use of bikes as well.

All of these initiatives have hindered the ease of those who commute in private cars, and have now been forced to sit in even more traffic. There's an article in the BrasilPost that's been circulating over the past couple of days since it was published, where the author goes on to criticize the city's elite because of their resistance to changes in infrastructure that favor pedestrians, public transports and alternative forms of transportation. I've written about this before, but it's crazy to see people who I know complain about these initiatives, are usually, as the article states,  the same ones who are praising bike and bus lanes in European cities they visit.

Bike Lanes in Utrecht - photo from wikipedia


Brazil can't use infrastructure and city planning that work in Europe? For once, I'm going to agree that this is a foremost matter of logistics and not society (although it'll help us socially as a people). We need to get over this social segregation and aristocratic view the São Paulo elite are prone to. Maybe this would have been okay 200 years ago, but certainly not in 2014. Let's evolve here for a minute and think rationally (dating an engineer has helped me to try to be more raional recently)... More people ride public transportation. More people can't afford to buy cars. For those who don't live too far from work, biking means less pollution, healthier people, and less space on the roads for cars and busses.

In short. Stop bitching, people. Stop being so selfish, and admit this all makes sense. Haddad certainly isn't a model citizen, and has been involved in his own political faults, but let's all agree what he's doing for transportation, is a step in the right direction towards ameliorating São Paulo's horrendous traffic and socio-economic gap. Ok? Thanks. 

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