In 2009 Enrique Peñalosa, ITDP Board President and former mayor of Bogotá, signed an agreement with Rio de Janeiro’s mayor for ITDP to give technical support to the city to develop projects involving BRT, bicycle and pedestrian networks, and public space. Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s second largest city and metropolitan area with 6.2 and 11.8 million people respectively. ITDP works with the city to develop designs for bicycle paths to feed to the planned BRT corridors and support the city’s pilot public bicycle system. Since 2012, ITDP also worked in Niterói, which is part of the Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan area, to assist the town with developments of their bus corridors and bicycle network system.
Along with BRT and cycling projects, ITDP actively promotes measures to calm traffic and increase pedestrian safety by carrying out capacity-building workshops and working on detailed design work together with the municipal government. For example, after pedestrian safety expert Michael King laid out the basic principles of safe streets in March 2010, municipal staff worked on improving the streets around Central Station and in the newly revitalized Lapa for pedestrian comfort and safety. Work on these designs continues, and they will be finalized and implemented in phases beginning with inexpensive pilot projects.
ITDP organized for Gehl Architects to conduct workshops and pilot studies on improving public space in Rio de Janeiro, especially in the city center. Gehl’s people-centered planning concepts gained a new level of recognition thanks to the ‘Our Cities Ourselves’ Exhibition, held in Rio at the start of 2011, which attracted over 9000 visitors.
FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games
The upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics provide the city with a unique opportunity to develop a strong network of bus rapid transit, and ITDP is working with the city to implement two BRT corridors in time for the World Cup and another two lines in time for the Olympic Games. In 2012, the city opened it’s first world-class BRT line, Ligeirão Transoeste. By 2016, Transoeste will form part of a network of 143km of BRT across four lines, linking all zones of the city, including the City Center, international airport and domestic airport. It will integrate with the subway and commuter train, as well as with the light rail circuit planned for the Port of Rio area, part of a key urban regeneration legacy project tied to the Olympics.
ITDP is currently working to analyze and influence the plans for several projects that are being developed in preparation for the World Cup and the Olympics, primarily around the Port of Rio redevelopment. With the support of ITDP, these developments could become more sustainable, particularly in relation to transportation.