Undersecretary of Sustainable and Safe Mobility, Department of Transportation, City of Buenos Aires
At Buenos Aires’ Department of Transportation, Paula promotes walkability and cycling for healthier, sustainable, and more active mobility. She works towards behavioral change for a calmer and safer coexistence between among citizens on the streets of Buenos Aires.
Tell us about your work on urban streets and/or mobility.
We are building a connected city that promotes quality public transport and sustainable mobility options, prioritizing pedestrians and bicycles. With projects such as Metrobus, Ecobici, and Microcentro Peatonal, we set ourselves the challenge of redesigning our streets so that we can enjoy moving around the city in a more comfortable and safe way.
What are the greatest mobility and/or road safety challenges in your city?
The main challenge is the transformation of public space so that Buenos Aires is a city on a human scale and prioritizes people. We work to promote good practices in traffic (pedestrians first) and improve road safety by changing the way we move and interact on the street: we set out to reduce by 30% the transit fatalities by 2019, understanding that the only acceptable number is zero.
What’s it like to be a pedestrian in your city?
Pedestrians are the most vulnerable actor in traffic. We encourage respect in the streets as a tool to achieve a good coexistence among all actors. We are developing an urban transformation, discouraging the use of the car, and creating streets of coexistence to achieve the optimal environment for the enjoyment of all of us who move in the city.
Tell us about an innovative urban project(s) or approach that has inspired your work.
I have many references in innovative and revolutionary urban projects that inspired the work we do in Buenos Aires, at a personal and governmental level: Jan Gehl, with the concept of a human-scale city; Janette Sadik-Khan and her new way of re-thinking urban street design; Gil Peñalosa. I also admire many urban projects like the Quais sur Berges, Place de la République, Copenhagen’s bike lanes, Tokyo and Kyoto’s streets, Times Square, and other urban interventions in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Monumento a Julio Argentino Roca in Buenos Aires, Argentina
What’s your favorite urban/mobility project that you’ve been involved with?
The Sustainable Mobility Plan integrates articulated programs that were developed taking into account the best experiences worldwide, the contribution of recognized professionals from each reference area and the main pillars of management in the area of transit and transport: priority public transport, healthy mobility and traffic order and road safety. Better circulation, less travel time, and more road safety.
What’s the most common roadblock/biggest challenge you face in implementing innovative projects in your city?
The main challenge is to promote a cultural change among the neighbors, changing the way we move and interact in the streets. Incorporating cycling and walking contributes to the healthy development of people, reinforcing the social function of the public space as a meeting place, a fundamental tool to achieve a sustainable society and a more open and inclusive community, where local economies are promoted.
What mobility, public space, or road safety improvements would you like to see in Buenos Aires by 2030?
Our main goal is to make a city for people. Buenos Aires is changing its urban profile with the aim of improving the quality of life of millions of people who travel daily. In this process, it is essential for people to feel safe and comfortable and enjoy public space. It is part of the cultural change necessary for the next generations to inhabit the city we dream of: a true meeting place, more inclusive, healthy, sustainable, and modern, with opportunities for all. A place where everyone likes to live.