Field Notes: A Catalog Of Pedestrian Operations In Brazil
FIELD NOTES: Brazilian cities do not seem to be centered around pedestrian movement. Cars, trucks, buses and cycles are the dominant form. Efforts have been made to reclaim power for pedestrians, with varied results.
PRIMARY THREATS: Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, other humans.
WORLDWIDE FACTS: Pedestrians are unlikely to comply with a three-stage crossing and may place themselves in a dangerous situation as a result.
High-visibility ladder and zebra markings are preferable to parallel or dashed pavement markings. These are more visible to approaching vehicles and have been shown to improve yielding behavior by drivers.
BRAZIL-SPECIFIC FACTS: Zebra crossings in paved cities are often ignored.
Brazil has only 13% of paved roads, dead last for paved roads in the 20 largest economies of the world. For comparison: The US has 4.37 million km of paved highways. Brazil has 214 thousand km. This is 20x less than the US.
There are no traffic lights for pedestrian crossing highways. Pedestrians must use inconveniently places bridges. Many opt to just cross highways between cars.
Pedestrians ignore crosswalks and signals. Drivers ignore pedestrians. This is called mutual disrespect.
In April, 2013, 72% of the Brazilians interviewed admitted crossing streets out of the pedestrian crossing.
Pedestrians who disrespect the traffic signs must pay a fee, but there is no supervision. The fees are never charged.
Roving groups of ‘Crosswalk Guardians’ are currently active in the country. Possibly a marketing exercise, possibly a benevolent citizen movement.
IN GENERAL: Mobility systems must be designed with human error in mind.
PROGRESS NOTES: In 2017, São Paulo reduced the number of road fatalities to 6.6 deaths per 100,000. The lowest number recorded in the city since 1979.
IN SUMMARY: Watch your step.