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Transport News 17, Sep 2013

Increasing institutional funding for sustainable transport projects is an essential part of promoting sustainable transport in developing cities. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has been a significant source for funding for these projects. In fact, GEF has been a key financing tool for projects which mitigate GHG emissions throughout the developing world.

Unfortunately, based on current approvals, it is likely that in GEF-5 (2010 – 2014), transport spending will go down. Even more unfortunately, only 30% of the total allocation for sustainable transport under the fifth cycle has been allocated. ITDP and the Partnership for Sustainable Low-Carbon Development (SLoCaT) are encouraging the GEF to continue their focus on sustainable transport.

The absence of transport-specific goals in GEF-6 is a step backward from GEF-5, in which urban transport was a key objective under the climate change strategy, risks losing the momentum built in the transport sector during earlier GEF cycles. The GEF has a proven track record in supporting and scaling up sustainable transport investment in developing countries through a number of core activities, including: innovative pilots, outreach, capacity building, and policy work.

SLoCaT and ITDP hope to work with the GEF to advance effective implementation of sustainable transport initiatives in the future. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) will publish a report in October focusing on lessons gleaned from past GEF transport interventions and through several case studies.

For more, visit SLoCaT and Transport 2020.

For more information on the GEF-6 replenishment process.

ScienceDaily: Air Quality News 17, Sep 2013
Engineers have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage using naturally-occurring "wired microbes" as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste.
ScienceDaily: Air Quality News 17, Sep 2013
Engineers are using a falling particle receiver to more efficiently convert the sun’s energy to electricity in large-scale, concentrating solar power plants.
Transport News 16, Sep 2013

(Photo by Stefano Aguiar)

As part of the Our Cities Ourselves visioning program, ITDP organized a recent design charrette with City of Rio officials to discuss transit-oriented development (TOD) around a yet-to-be-built TransBrasil BRT station in Bonsucesso, a neighborhood in the city’s North Zone. Participants included about 12 representatives from the Secretary of Planning, Transport, Public Works, the State Transport Department and the PPP Unit of the Mayor’s office. This focus group was one of the first occasions that these different departments worked together and exchanged ideas for the study area.

Bonsucesso is being used as a pilot study project for how the city approaches station area planning. Participants went on a site visit together using evaluation tools developed by ITDP with support from Vicente del Rio, a Brazilian architect and urbanist, and came up with ideas for how to make improvements based on ITDP’s principles for TOD. One of the results may be that future detailed-development plans (known locally as PEUs) around any station area in the city will require a parking cap while also allowing higher densities.

(Photos by Stefano Aguiar)

TransBrasil will be one of the highest capacity BRT corridors in the world and the only line that will enter Rio’s historic downtown. The BRT will run along a highly trafficked motorway called Avenida Brasil that was built in the 1950s and serves as the main artery connecting many neighborhoods to the city’s main employment district. It will help rationalize bus service along the corridor. Participants in the charrette recognized that it has the potential to leverage investment and capture new development interest due to its proximity to the downtown.

A synthesis of the vision the city officials shaped together will be presented to the public accompanied by a discussion with leading international experts on BRT & TOD on September 18, 2013 at the Jardim Botânico. For more information, please see the seminar program.

The City Fix 16, Sep 2013

This September 22, people from around the world will engage in urban activism to push for bicycle-friendly cities. Photo by Carlos Cadena Gaitan.

Peaceful urban activists are setting a new trend for resilient Latin American societies. In the midst of the massive motorization caused by increased income levels, they all share one idea: we still have time to reclaim our streets – for pedestrians, for cyclists, for humans – before the car takes over completely.

Last year, urban activists from Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil decided to act simultaneously on Global Car-Free Day, September 22nd, using art as a pragmatic tool to improve their cities.

Symbolic bike paths were painted by activists. Large groups of cyclists, artists and curious citizens took back their streets from cars, allowing non-motorized modes of transport to dominate the roads for a few precious hours. Thousands of citizens were reminded of their right – and responsibility – to creatively push for more humane cities.

Although it began as a symbolic action to call on local policy makers, the actions of the urban guerrillas had tangible results. Formal cycle lanes are now a reality in some of these locations, and sustainable mobility is moving quickly to the top of the political agenda in some of these cities like never before.

Months later, the urban activists’ efforts were recognized with the “Cycling Visionaries” award at Velo-City Vienna. Encouraged by this positive feedback, they decided to turn “Bikes For Life” into a global event for Septamber 22, 2013. In order to allow the free participation of any group, the organizers of the event are calling on citizens to generate any symbolic action in favor of urban cycling, in their own communities.

As of September 10th, 182 organizations across all 5 continents had already confirmed their participation.  In Kampala, Tanzania, the African Bicycle Network is organizing a massive group ride through the streets. In Delft, a small city in the cycling country of The Netherlands, students will provide free bicycle lights to fellow cyclists. In Asunción, Paraguay, artists plan to unveil an urban monument made out of used bicycle parts.

Alexandre Costa, journalist for Gazeta do Povo in Curitiba, Brazil says that “the ‘life-lines’ that citizens should paint that day can range from a simple bicycle symbolically painted on a wall to a fully-fledged bike lane along a main city road.” Zorely Ramos, one of the leaders of the event in Mexico, highlights one of the most crucial aspects of the initiative: “Anybody can provide a creative gift for their own city on that day, as long as it is done legally, and without intention to substitute the authority of the government”.

When asked about the dangers of using such a negatively charged term such as “guerrilla” in Colombia, a country that has long suffered from their violence, some of the activists remind us of a statement by Banksy, one of the world’s most renowned urban artists: “There is nothing more dangerous than a person who wants to make the world a better place.”