Rio bike riders can roam a little freer, as the first 3.3 kilometers of new, ITDP designed cycle lanes opened in the city’s downtown this week. The opening included three different cycle routes, connecting important transit stations with their surrounding areas. Though a modest initial growth to Rio’s existing bike infrastructure, the Ciclo Rotas Project is big news for Cariocas (Rio residents). The dedicated lanes are the first in downtown Rio, allowing bikers more safety, comfort, and accessibility on the busy streets of central Rio. The lanes add important connectivity in the area, linking bus and metro stations with pedestrian areas, and build momentum for further biking gains to come.
“It is a major achievement, and makes a strong statement about the kind of urban mobility we want for our city, ” said Clarisse Linke, Country Director for ITDP Brazil. “Bikes can serve as an important connection from mass transit stations to the rest of the city. Over the next five years, as more bike lanes are built, along with five new light rail lines and the TransCarioca BRT corridor, downtown Rio will totally transform and people will be crossing the city in new ways. This is just the beginning.”
The new bike routes provide several important benefits to Rio residents. The new lanes will increase mobility in the neighborhoods of Lapa, Saúde and Gamboa, addressing the ‘last mile’ problem from transit stations to jobs and establishing space for non-motorized transit in downtown Rio. In addition, the new lanes will be integrated with the existing cycling infrastructure, increasing connectivity of the entire network and helping to create a complete path from the city’s North Zone to the South Zone.
The Ciclo Rotas Centro project began in 2012, and is part of a formal cycling infrastructure proposal by ITDP. The plans were developed collaboratively, analyzing opportunities for new cycle lanes and increased cycle parking throughout downtown Rio. ITDP worked with local partners, Transporte Ativo, Studio X (Columbia University) and several independent collaborators to develop the proposal. Late last year, the proposal was approved by City Hall, and the Mayor has worked swiftly to begin implementation.
Moving forward, plans for additional bike lanes have been approved, and funding from local environmental funds is anticipated. City Hall is working to remove parking from downtown Rio, another ITDP priority, allowing more space on the busy streets for bicycles. With the city making steady progress reducing parking, and Rio residents enjoying the safety and accessibility of biking downtown, all are confident that the city’s progress won’t stop here.