GDCI Projects March 16, 2023

News: Fortaleza achieves eighth consecutive year of reduction in traffic deaths

Fortaleza, Brazil's Cidade Da Gente project, created in partnership with GDCI and Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety. Credit: City of Fortaleza.

For the eighth consecutive year, the city of Fortaleza, Brazil, reduced the number of deaths in traffic in 2022. The number has been decreasing since 2014, and over eight years, Fortaleza leaders have reduced the number of deaths in traffic by more than 50%.

“Historical series of fatal traffic accidents in Fortaleza,” from the print version of Opovo.

GDCI has been incredibly proud to collaborate with Fortaleza on some of this work. We worked with Fortaleza from 2017 to 2020 as part of our Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety work, and from 2019 to 2022 as part of our Streets for Kids program. During the period that GDCI collaborated with the city, several streets were transformed through interim and capital projects which contributed to the reductions in traffic deaths and injuries. We are so proud to see the work we did years ago with Fortaleza now effectively making streets there safer for more people.

    • Barao do Rio Branco in 2019, part of Fortaleza's Lively Sidewalks Program supported by BIGRS. Credit: Paulo Winz/GDCI.
    • Cristo Redentor in 2019, part of Fortaleza's Pathways to School Program supported by BIGRS. Credit: Paulo Winz/GDCI.
    • "Cidade 2000" in 2017, part of Fortaleza's City of People Program, supported by BIGRS. Credit: City of Fortaleza.
    • Planalto Ayrton Senna in 2021, part of Fortaleza's Pathways to School Program supported by Streets for Kids. Credit: Paulo Winz/GDCI.
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    Brazilian news outlet Opovo covered the recent news. An English version of the story is below.

    Fortaleza reaches the eighth consecutive year of traffic deaths reduction
    Speed reduction and increase of space for cyclists are actions seen as examples for the rest of the country

    Totalizing 157 deaths in 2022, Fortaleza registered another year of reduction in the number of road deaths. The number has been decreasing since 2014 when 377 were dead due to road crashes. In eight years, the reduction is 58.3%, according to the survey of the Municipal Traffic Authority (AMC).

    According to traffic management specialists, actions such as the expansion of the cycling network and the reduction of speed on some streets in the city have great relevance in the results obtained last year. For Professor Mário Azevedo, from the Transportation Engineering Department of the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), the increase of space for cyclists is a way to insert them into the culture of a more peaceful traffic. “The cyclist starts to have his space recognized, and the tendency is that the drivers’ strangeness decreases with time. The bicycle starts to be noticed as part of that environment”, he evaluates.

    The coordinator of the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) in Brazil, Dante Rosado, classifies speed reduction as the main factor for the drop in the number of deaths.

    “Fortaleza went through this transformation in 2021, several avenues went through this reduction. The City is doing its homework and has become a mentor city for the rest of the country”, highlights Rosado. The Bloomberg Initiative works in medium/low income countries to develop public policies for road safety.

    BIGRS was a direct partner of the municipal government of Fortaleza from 2015 to 2020, and currently operates in four other cities in Brazil: Recife, Salvador, Campinas, and São Paulo. The good results of the capital of Ceará have made it a hub for knowledge exchange. “Fortaleza is a national reference, we always bring people from other cities to Fortaleza so they can understand what is being done continuously to reduce the number of traffic deaths,” points Dante.

    The drop in the number of deaths between 2021 and 2022, from 184 to 157, was the second biggest in the last eight years, in percentage terms. The 14.6% reduction between the last two years is second only to the recorded between 2014 and 2015, when the number of deaths fell from 377 to 316, representing a 16.1% decrease.

    For AMC superintendent, Antônio Ferreira, Fortaleza is on the right track to offer an increasingly safer traffic. “No death is acceptable. We must continue to design roads with a focus on road safety, besides requalifying the already existing spaces for more safety for people”.

    Between the years 2012 and 2022, Fortaleza’s bicycle network increased 503%. Today, there are already more than 400 km available exclusively for cyclists; ten years ago the city had about 70 km. According to AMC, by 2021, 50 streets in the capital had their speed reduced.

    Motorcyclists are the ones who die the most in traffic
    From the 157 deaths recorded in traffic in Fortaleza in 2022, 75 motorcyclists (or motorcycles’ ocupantes). With 49% of the deaths, motorcyclists are the ones who die the most in traffic in the capital, followed by pedestrians (42%), cyclists (5%), and car occupants (4%).

    The vulnerability of motorcyclists is one of the factors that worries traffic specialists. Dante Rosado evaluates that it is necessary to offer other transportation alternatives for this public.

    “It is a broad problem of urban mobility, where people are chosing for the motorcycle when public transportation does not meet their needs, because of the price or the travel time. It is not just a problem in Fortaleza.”

    Speed management policies and enforcement are seen as inhibiting the misuse of motorcycles, however, they have not been enough. The spread of delivery services by motorcycle is also seen as an aggravating factor.

    “Delivery services have made motorcyclists work under time pressure. The need to be fast, for a good review, makes them more vulnerable,” points out professor Mario Azevedo.

    Finally, Antônio Ferreira, superintendent of AMC, says that he has plans for the group to be reached more effectively by the safe traffic policies. He says he is in contact with the driving schools union in favor of motorcyclists. “I’m looking for a partnership between our Education Department and the driving schools. The withdrawal of the driver’s license does not cover all traffic situations. We can expand the techniques applied and improve the issue of safety items,” he points out.

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