Bus Rapid Transit (km) 320 | Passengers (per day) 270,000 | Pedestrian Infrastructure (blocks) 1580 | Bike Share bikes 1508| Cycling Infrastructure (km) 108| Commute Time Reduction (%) 18.4
Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil with the third largest metropolitan area. To combat increasing rates of car ownership, the city started refocusing on public transportation reforms in 2009. Belo Horizonte was the first city in Brazil to implement an Urban Mobility Plan in 2013. As part of that, they have built a new gold standard bus rapid transit system and created bus-only lanes for the normal bus service throughout the city. The downtown has been revitalized with two pedestrian only streets and a new focus on mixed-use, transit-oriented developments. Though the city is hilly, a 360 kilometer cycling network is planned with 70 kilometers of protected bike lanes already built.
Belo Horizonte’s 2013 mobility plan was an opportunity for Belo Horizonte to conduct to assess the mobility situation in the city. They found an alarming drop in public transportation (68.4% to 43.3% from 1995-2012) and a sharp, 108% increase in general motorization (from 306 to 638 vehicles per 1000 inhabitants from 1999-2013). To address this, Belo Horizonte focused on improving their bus system which, carrying nearly 1.4 million trips per day in 2009, was the most used form of public transit. To improve the current bus system, new priority bus lanes were built throughout the city. Further, a new MOVE BRT project was planned with three corridors, two of which were built in 2014. The system moves 500,000 per day and has reduced transit times considerably with morning peak hour trips reduced from 102 minutes to just 41. As they built the second BRT corridor, Antônio Carlos, the city actively engaged local citizens and distributed pamphlets to ensure the project was a success. This engagement paid off with an amazing 82% approval rating from BRT riders.
Since 2009, Belo Horizonte has been working on improving cycling conditions in the hilly city. The initial network met with resistance from local cyclists that found the lanes dangerous and were frustrated by inconsistencies in lane planning and design. After meeting with stakeholders and planners, Belo Horizonte set about fixing the network. They refocused on building protected bike lanes with 70 km built by 2014 and a plan for 360 km by 2020. To ensure intermodal transportation options, new bike lanes were put in along the MOVE BRT corridors, too. The city’s bike share program, Bike B-H, has 340 bikes at 34 stations with 10,000 members.
In tandem with the other improvements from the Mobility Plan, Belo Horizonte focused on city center improvements for pedestrians. Two streets were closed to vehicular traffic, and the next stage of initiatives will focus on promoting transit-oriented developments and parking restrictions. To ensure that public opinion and input is taken into account, Belo Horizonte also set up a Mobility Council and an Observatory of Mobility to provide information and respond to new demands and inquiries from the public.