Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sao Paulo

Wow what a turnaround Sao Paulo made in my head. When I came here two summers ago on a mission with the World Bank, I could only think of one word- clusterfuck. The transportation was perilously gridlocked, the planning was all over the place.

Now I came away thinking I would want to spend significant time in Sao Paulo. The transportation has been dramatically improved. Segregated busways and new metro lines are the two principle reasons, but there are others.

(If you don't see the video click here)
Sao Paulo from the apartment where I ate lunch with some transport experts. If you listen carefully you can hear the Paulista accent of those next to me.

Welcome to probably the best metro in South America. Santiago is the only other one that holds a candle. In fact, now I think Sao Paulo is similar in many respects to Santiago. Except three times bigger (think 18 million to 6 million).
Relics from the protest of the cost of the University of Sao Paulo earlier this year. USP is for the people!
One of the big reasons for going was to meet with some transportation experts. One of them, Eric, is an avid bike rider (not at all uncommon with transportation experts). His idea - bike around the city. I am terrified of the drivers in Rio. Seriously I've never seen such a blatant disrespect for pedestrians. Eric assured me that Sao Paulo was better and that pedestrians understand better with bicyclists.

Bicyclists have apparently achieved critical mass in Sao Paulo, with more than 100,000 using bikes as their primary method of transportation. They even make renegade bike markings on the street.

I really wanted to take a picture of this guy, but I hate asking people to take a picture, but when he asked for money for a "cafezinho", I figured it would be a fair trade. This is a "cartoneiro." He fills his cart with cardboard to sell to someone who packages it. It eventually gets recycled or sent to Asia. After I took the picture, I gave him R$2 (US$1), thinking I was being generous. He had other ideas. "That's it," he said. Totally killed my opinion of you, dude.

Typical downtown Sao Paulo street.
Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells of Notre Dame.
Portuguese Langauge museum with Devin. He's an inch taller than I am, so we're like the two giant gringos there, and a group of high school students stared at us, took pictures of and with us, and kept asking questions. We both think it was because there were two of us.
Sao Paulo has always had "motoboys," or crazy motorcycle riders that go to the front of every traffic light. Their incredibly high rate of accidents has caused the city to start experimenting with motorcycle only lanes.
Awesome buslanes. This particular one was there two years ago, but now there are a lot more.
The subway network ingeniously hooks up to the intermunicipal bus station. Amazing. This is just great. Here people sleep overnight. This and the potential Rio-Sao Paulo high speed rail link and things are really looking on the up and up.

I hope to see you soon, Sao Paulo.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ryan,

This is Grandma--I love reading your blog. I always check it often for the latest updates.

I lOVE YOU, Grandma

11:56 PM  
Blogger Bradley said...

Sao Paulo just got a big boost on my list of places to visit when I finish school...but only if you come back with me to show me around.

8:57 PM  

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