April 02 2013

Cars as the New Cholesterol of Buenos Aires’ Veins

Buenos Aires has a saturated transportation system and, due to this factor, the population’s quality of life is on the decline.

The main cause of this collapsing system is the disproportionate participation of the private car. The total amount of movement in the city via private car reaches almost forty percent of total movement per day. This mode of transportation contrasts directly with the well-known and once very used urban bus, with a differential (preferred) and reduced consumption of road space in relation to the number of people actually transported.

As famous Argentine Architect Luis Grossman put it: “We are now witnessing a monstrous transformation of our city, with its circulatory system in danger, her veins blocked. Cars are the cholesterol of our city, and will end up killing it.

Traffic at the 25 de Mayo Highway in Buenos Aires

It should be noted that in a congested city mobility implies high costs for each user and for society in general. Such costs are paid for by all citizens, though some may not even realize it. In the case of the private car, own costs include time lost at increasingly long traffic jams, fuel, tolls and parking.

Within social costs, add on time lost in congestion, air pollution and noise, the increased likelihood of accidents and their impact on productivity and the economy, health, quality of life and environment.

Costs, in the end, to be paid by society as a whole.

Some work has been done to increase sustainable mobility, and ten ideas have been proposed in academic circles in order to find a possible answer to the issue by correct urban planning:

1. Implement a Park & ​​Ride system, which involves parking lots at major entrances to the city, connected with public transit systems.

2. Create exclusive lanes for public transit, reversible lanes and flow direction changes for proven high-traffic areas.

3. Create a bus rapid transit system,  with special stops and pre-paid tickets.

4. Encourage non-motorized transit options, such as pedestrian and bicycle options, which are also environmentally sustainable.

5. Restrictions on parking in the central areas of the city, so as to prioritize public transportation over other modes of travel.

6. Apply differential costs of tolls on urban highways, for days, hours, type of vehicle and occupancy.

7. Implement a “smart” traffic control, allowing for quick detection of congestion and traffic flow.

8. Encourage road safety education in schools and community awareness to discourage traffic accidents.

9. Promote the maintenance and continuous improvement of road networks, which include signaling and proper delineation of roads.

10. Improve transshipment centers to enhance intermodality.

Bus Rapid Transit implementation at Juan B. Justo Avenue

If we want to see these ideas turn into reality, it is necessary to promote cooperation within the various levels of government. National, provincial and local governments must all cooperate, and it must also be assumed that the lack of a regional transportation plan is the main obstacle to overcome in order to achieve a solution to this problem.

Are there ways to save your city’s ‘circulatory’ system? Do you think we only need the space to start discussing them?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources and provided by author.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at 9:54 am and is filed under Infrastructure, Luis Lozano-Paredes, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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