News April 25, 2019

Participation is Power: Outer boroughs in São Paulo compete to transform their streets

By Najwa Doughman, Kat Gowland and Ankita Chachra

Local communities in São Paulo, Brazil, are taking action this year for safer streets and vibrant public spaces. In 2017, the city suffered 7,797 road traffic fatalities, 3,651 of which were pedestrians and cyclists, highlighting the need for addressing this challenge through street design. The newly launched Proposta de Transformação de Espaço Público project seeks to rethink the city on the scale of the neighborhoods, prioritizing the safe movement of people rather than cars and giving greater attention to the design of the street and other public spaces.

Borough technicians across São Paulo were invited to workshop designs and apply safe street concepts to three short-listed sites in February 2019

Launching the Competition: Proposta de Transformação de Espaço Público project

The Proposta de Transformação de Espaço Público project is led by the Secretary of Boroughs of São Paulo and is supported by Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS), The Global Designing Cities Initiative (GDCI) and Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP Brazil), through a collaboration agreement signed with the City of São Paulo. Boroughs across São Paulo were invited to submit design concepts to transform a chosen site into a safe and vibrant space for all its users to encourage walking, bicycling, and using public transportation. Fifteen boroughs applied, proposing visions and concepts which would reduce peak speeds, improve pedestrian infrastructure, and promote public health, local business, and quality of life for local residents.

Penha announced as the winner!

The team met with three shortlisted boroughs over the past weeks and selected the borough of Penha as the finalist to receive support for developing, designing, and implementing the project. The design site is located along Rua Dr. Campos Moura, adjacent to the Artur Alvim Metro Station and along the route of several bus and microbus lines. There are diverse commercial and street vending activities, multiple modes of transport, and high pedestrian volumes. The entrance to the site is located within a “hot spot” for road crashes and parked vehicles currently claim much of the roadbed and sidewalk space. Pedestrians currently have to traverse wide and unsafe intersections as they move throughout the neighborhood. Penha will begin to address these challenges in May and will develop their design proposal throughout this year.

The winning proposal from Penha was guided by criteria which prioritized concepts of safe and vibrant streets, the commitment of borough staff and other stakeholders to develop the project, and alignment with other planned initiatives in the borough. Penha will engage in a participatory urban design process leading up to the implementation. The project partners will also focus on building capacity within the boroughs to scale up the current efforts in the future.

Stay tuned and follow along as this progresses!

The existing site in Penha shows opportunities for improved pedestrian accessibility, more compact intersections, and enhanced public space.

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