February 6, 2020

Bicycle Lanes Move Everyone Forward

Trustworthy and indepth news stories are more important now than ever.
Support our newsroom by MAKING A CONTRIBUTION HERE

Obesity, rising car use, and pollution are the hallmarks of rapidly growing cities worldwide. But by embracing cycling culture and investing accordingly – especially in dedicated bike lanes – policymakers can help to meet these challenges.

FORTALEZA – The intersection of Avenida Leste Oeste and Avenida Pasteur in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza was always tricky to navigate by bicycle, especially heading east as three lanes of car traffic became two. Data show that every 60 minutes during rush hour, 360 cyclists had to maneuver around and between 2,700 cars, trucks, and motorcycles without any protections.

Such conditions are not conducive for cycling, to say the least. Yet bicycles hold much promise as both a mode of transport and a way for Fortalezenses to pursue a more active lifestyle and resist the obesity epidemic sweeping Brazil, where more than half the population is overweight or obese. With obesity rising by more than 67% in the last 13 years, the onus was on my administration to make cycling a more popular choice.

Our goal was to make Fortaleza – a beautiful coastal city and Brazil’s fifth largest municipality, with more than 2.6 million residents – safer as well as healthier. So, we began to adopt incentives to encourage cycling, particularly measures to make it a better transport option.

The most obvious place to begin was with bike lanes. When roads do not contain dedicated lanes, cyclists have few rights and little safety. Between 2010 and 2018, there were 222 crashes involving bikes on Fortaleza’s roads. Too many families have been torn apart because their youngest and healthiest members are incapacitated or killed on their daily commutes.

At the start of 2013, when we stepped into office, the city had only 68 kilometers of bike lanes, and many of our sidewalks were falling into disrepair or being used as parking lots, forcing pedestrians into streets that were jammed with cars. After six years of addressing our infrastructure, however, our efforts gained international recognition for reclaiming more than 12 square kilometers of streetscape for pedestrians and almost quadrupling the total length of bike lanes, to 263 kilometers.

Today, four out of every ten Fortalezenses live within 300 meters of cycling infrastructure – the best result among Brazilian state capitals, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, based in New York City. Given that many studies have found that introducing bike lanes has a positive economic impact, especially on local businesses, we believe we made a wise investment.

Of course, not everyone can ride a bike. That is why we also invested in dedicated bus lanes. The increase from two miles (3.2 kilometers) of dedicated lanes in 2013 to 72 miles in 2019 has allowed our buses to go from pedestrian speed to bike speed. The hope is that these improvements will encourage more people to switch to a healthier, faster, and more environmentally sustainable mode of transport on the way to and from work.

One of the biggest hurdles to commuting by bike is that too few people own one. Theft and the cost of purchasing and repairing a bike are the main barriers. Bike sharing removes these obstacles. In Fortaleza, a new subsidized bike share project, called Bicicletar Corporativo, provides city employees with bike access from 16 stations spread across the downtown area. The program serves as a model for private companies to consider when encouraging their own staff to commute by bike.

All of these improvements, as well as events like September’s Car Free Day, are meant to make the city safer, not just for cyclists but for everybody on the road. And they have worked. Between 2014 and 2018, road traffic deaths recorded by traffic and health authorities fell by 40%, from 377 to 226.

Today, you can get on a bike and ride west in a dedicated lane on Avenida Leste Oeste that takes you safely through the intersection with Avenida Pasteur. On the return trip, you can ride the eastbound lane – the medians have been reworked and part of the roadway has been permanently set aside for bikes. The installation last year of new signaling, lane markings, and reserved areas for bikes in front of the stoplights is just the latest in a series of road safety upgrades being implemented across the city.

Keeping pace with current transportation trends can both improve public health and boost economic growth. In Fortaleza, we are embracing the cycling trend because the benefits are enormous. Our city is changing for the better. More people are riding bikes, and more safely than ever, contributing to cleaner air and greater wellbeing with every commute. Other cities can do it, too. Those that maintain streetscapes designed strictly for automobile traffic will only be left behind in the decades ahead.

Roberto Cláudio Rodrigues Bezerra, the Mayor of Fortaleza, Brazil, is a member of the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a network supported by the World Health Organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Vital Strategies.

The text has been adapted from Project Syndicate website

We can't do quality journalism without your support

Perhaps it goes without saying — but producing quality journalism isn't cheap. At a time when newsroom resources and revenue are declining, The Chronicles remains committed to "Serving Your Right To Know The Truth". Stand with us as we document Rwanda's remarkable journey for you and the future generation. Do you value our journalism? We can't do it without you. Show us with your support by CONTRIBUTING HERE.
Email your news TIPS to info@chronicles.rw or WhatsApp +250788351327.
You can also find us on Signal


  1. Hello, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam comments?
    If so how do you reduce it, any plugin or
    anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support
    is very much appreciated.

  2. Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog that automatically tweet
    my newest twitter updates. I’ve been looking for a plug-in like this
    for quite some time and was hoping maybe you
    would have some experience with something like
    this. Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy reading your blog and
    I look forward to your new updates.

  3. Thank you, I have just been searching for info
    about this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I
    have came upon till now. However, what in regards to the
    bottom line? Are you positive about the source?

  4. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through
    some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m
    definitely glad I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back

  5. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I really hope to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own, personal blog now 😉

  6. Hello, i feel that i saw you visited my blog thus i came to return the want?.I am trying to
    in finding issues to enhance my site!I guess its ok to make
    use of a few of your ideas!!

  7. This design is spectacular! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!)
    Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say,
    and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  8. Hello there, I discovered your blog by the use of Google at the same
    time as looking for a comparable topic, your web site got here up,
    it seems to be good. I have bookmarked it in my google
    Hello there, just was aware of your blog thru Google, and located that it is truly informative.
    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you happen to proceed this
    in future. A lot of other folks shall be benefited from your writing.

  9. Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web site before
    but after going through some of the posts I realized it’s new
    to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly pleased I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it
    and checking back often!

  10. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But
    maybe you could a little more in the way of
    content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot
    of text for only having 1 or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  11. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back sometime soon. I want to encourage you continue your great writing, have a nice weekend!

  12. There are even a couple of progressive jackpot games like Caribbean Hold’em and Caribbean Stud if you’re seeking for a classic card game with
    some hefty payouts.

  13. Hi! I know this is somewhat off-topic however I had to ask.
    Does operating a well-established blog like yours take a
    lot of work? I’m completely new to operating a blog however I do write in my diary
    everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I will
    be able to share my personal experience and feelings online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of ideas or tips for new aspiring blog
    owners. Thankyou!

  14. Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Finding the time
    and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say… I
    hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  15. Hi there! This article could not be written any better!
    Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will send this post
    to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

  16. Hey would you mind letting me know which hosting company you’re
    working with? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most.
    Can you recommend a good hosting provider at a fair price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!

  17. Howdy! I understand this is kind of off-topic but I needed to ask.
    Does operating a well-established blog like yours take a large amount
    of work? I am completely new to running a blog however I
    do write in my diary everyday. I’d like to start a blog so I
    can share my personal experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions or tips for new aspiring bloggers.
    Appreciate it!

  18. Aw, this was an extremely good post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a lot and never seem to get anything done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *