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São Paulo mayor on quest to ease gridlock

São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad has widened sidewalks and added bike paths and bus lanes in a quest to wean residents from cars. (Zé Carlos Barretta/Folhapress PODER)

São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad is on a mission to make Brazil’s business and financial center less dependent on autos. Simon Romero reports for the New York Times that the mayor is reshaping the city by reversing long-standing policies that contributed to gridlock.

Inspired by New York, Paris and other cities, Haddad has added hundreds of miles of bike paths and enlargened sidewalks, the article says. He’s also introduced lanes reserved for buses while reducing speed limits for other vehicles and closing some major roads to traffic.

The swiftness with which Haddad has implemented these changes amounts to what Romero describes as a form of “urban shock treatment.” The mayor’s efforts have sparked a heated debate about municipal power and public space. Some Paulistanos complain about new policies being implemented too hastily. They also grumble about fewer parking spaces and speed restrictions.

Haddad counters that neighborhoods are consulted about enhancements. And he points to stats indicating that pedestrian fatalities are down nearly 20 percent over the past year, yet traffic moves faster.

New York Times

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