By Maricha Friedman
ITDP Chief Executive Officer Walter Hook recently completed teaching a two week course, “The Theory and Practice of Sustainable and Equitable Transportation Planning”, at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Niteroi, Brazil, near Rio de Janeiro. The course focused on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) potential in Niteroi but also on parking reform, congestion charging, and urban design for pedestrian and cycling space. Participants in the two-week course included municipal employees, state planning agency employees, and graduate and undergraduate students from Niteroi and Rio de Janeiro.
The exchange between Walter and city employees working in the field afforded rich discussions on these alternative transportation solutions and how they can be implemented. As one participant, Henrique Torres, Engineer at CET-Rio, Rio de Janeiro’s Traffic Engineering Company pointed out,
“Some things I already knew, but [I learned] a lot of new things, new information. It’s very valuable because of all his experience working on various projects, especially on BRTs. He knows a lot about BRT systems all over the world (Indonesia, South Africa, Colombia, Curitiba). I think his experience is great, and his point of view as an economist as well—he spoke about the costs of projects compared with the economic benefits of those systems.”
Overall, the course highlighted the necessity to shift historical transportation planning trends from favoring personal car use, resulting in an urban development that is unfriendly to pedestrians, towards more human-oriented development. These transportation solutions also yield environmental, social, and economic benefits crucial for Brazil, as it rises in the world economy and prepares for the World Cup and Olympic games.