(This post is part of a series.)
It’s interesting to see what Jaime Lerner—the legendary mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, who created a world-class bus rapid transit system on a shoestring budget—had to say about Seattle transportation, in a question-and-answer session with the Seattle P-I:
Is there a way to create dedicated bus lanes in a cramped city like Seattle?
“There are many ways, many corridors where you can have a really good system. … Sometimes you think, ‘Aaah we don’t have enough space.’ … There’s always a good solution.”
How long does it typically take to set up a bus rapid transit system?
“You can build in two years a good system. It’s not difficult, because it has not too much public works. It’s very simple.
I tend to agree: bus rapid transit is far more viable than most people think. It’s cheaper, faster to deploy, and more flexible than rail. Now that Seattle’s monorail has been – uh – derailed, it’s a solution that’s worth considering for the corridor that the monorail was designed to serve.
And then there’s this:
Some people say that if the viaduct were replaced with nothing but a surface road, heavy traffic along the waterfront would ruin it. Do you agree?
“If you provide good alternatives for public transport, you won’t have traffic problems. … Can you imagine how much better the city could become with 30 percent less of the cars running in the street? It’s very easy. The main issue is having good public transport and after, if it’s needed, the wall to protect the waterfront—I don’t have the answer to that. But definitely it’s not the viaduct.”
Seems as if the P-I editorial board may be inching towards the same conclusion.
Clark, I don’t get the title of this one. Can you explain?
Jaime Lerner’s comments should be a call to action. As I said in this post, if Curitiba—with a per capita income of $2500 a person, 300 percent population growth since 1970, and no lush beaches or obvious tourist attractions—can make its city a model of human-scale sustainable design, why can’t Northwest cities come closer to the mark?