Mobility and Democracy
16 de June de 2017

The economist Enrique Peñalosa, mayor of Bogotá, is quite clear when he speaks of mobility, and of the policies he instituted and became a reference for countless cities in Latin America – including Blumenau.
Peñalosa argues that an advanced city is not one where even the poor use cars, but where even the rich use public transportation. For him, mobility is a new expression of freedom, and one of the levers for the practice of democracy and equity.

The Netherlands, where I spent a study season, is a country with a higher per capita income than the United States. But 30% of its population uses the bicycle as a means of locomotion.

Even the famous Dutch canals are great options for connections between cities via bicycles. Between The Hague and Rotterdam are approximately 25 kilometers. And on the whole route the bike is treated as a priority. This is reflected in the design, the floor, the preferences in the intersections, the kneecaps, the details – there are, for example, air pumps on the way – in the concern and quality of everything that relates to the bicycle.

Nothing more fair and democratic. Because a citizen who moves on a 50 euro bike, as is my case, has the right to space, to use the city, and to use the city with quality and safety. The division of public space is more just. A symbol of democracy.

What would Blumenau have to do with this idea? The division of space has undoubtedly advanced when the bus corridors were implemented, since they save in 17 times the space occupied by cars to carry the same number of passengers. As Peñalosa says, the fact that public transportation buses move quickly while expensive cars are stuck in traffic is still an image of functioning democracy.

But it is possible to go even further. Although the city is characterized by hills, our most populous neighborhoods, such as Garcia, Velha and the Itoupavas, connect to the Center practically on the plane. There is no lack of rivers connecting the city to the center and the river Itajaí-Açu. To give priority to the cyclist and the pedestrian is to privilege equity in the division of public space.

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