Street Mobility in South America

Two members of the Street Mobility project (Prof. Jenny Mindell and Dr. Paulo Anciaes) received a UCL Santander Research Catalyst Award to visit three South American countries (Colombia, Brazil, and Chile) to present the results of the Street Mobility project; disseminate the findings of the project and the Street Mobility toolkit; and to meet with local researchers, with the aim of creating partnerships for future collaboration on transport and health topics.

We visited four cities (and six universities): Bogotá (Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Universidad de Los Andes), São Paulo (Universidade de São Paulo), Santiago (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad San Sebastian) and Temuco (Universidad de La Frontera). In these cities, we met with researchers from a variety of fields, such as public health, physical activity, physiotherapy, transport engineering and planning, urban studies, and urban design.

The main event in each city was a half-day public seminar attended by practitioners, policy-makers, researchers, and graduate students. In these seminars we presented the methods and results of the Street Mobility project. Prof. Jenny Mindell gave an overview of community severance as a transport and health issue and Dr. Paulo Anciaes presented the main output of our project, the Street Mobility toolkit. Local researchers also presented some of their work on transport and health. All the presentations can be downloaded from our website here.

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Flyer of the Santiago seminar

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  Media interest after the Temuco seminar

In each city, after the public seminar, we held workshops with a smaller group of local researchers, where they talked at length about the main transport and public health issues in their cities. We then identified common interests and explored possible ideas for future research and possibilities for funding this research.

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Working lunch in Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá                

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Final group photo at Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco

We also made walking and cycling visits to see (and use) transport infrastructure that promotes active travel, health, and wellbeing. In Bogotá, we cycled in the Ciclovía, an initiative where 120 km of main roads are closed off to motorised traffic on Sunday mornings. We participated in a similar initiative in Santiago, the CicloRecreoVia. In Santiago we also joined local city officials on a walking tour of areas in the city centre where policies are being implemented to tame motorised traffic and improve the conditions for pedestrians. In Temuco, we cycled along the city’s extensive cycle lane network. In São Paulo, we joined local researchers and practitioners in a visit of São Miguel Paulista, an area where there are plans for a complete redesign of the street network to promote walking. We then met with the local mayor.

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Joining the CicloRecreoVia in Santiago

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Meeting the mayor of São Miguel Paulista, São Paulo 

At the invitation of the Dean of the Faculty of Health Science of Universidad San Sebastian, Prof. Jenny Mindell also delivered a public lecture at that university, talking about health examination surveys in England and the Americas plus a short overview of community severance.

We also held meetings with representatives of the British Consulate and the British Council in Bogotá to discuss possible opportunities for funding future projects.

Last but not least, we met with UCL alumni in Bogotá, São Paulo, and Santiago in lively social events, and we exchanged ideas with these members of the UCL community.

In the coming days, we will publish three further posts describing the main themes that came out from the activities in the three countries. The starting point of the activities was the issue of community severance but in all cities visited, our discussions with local researchers and other stakeholders evolved to cover related topics on transport and health, such as physical activity, exposure to noise and air pollution, trip quality, trip-related stress, fear of crime, public transport provision, urban sprawl, design of public places, and above all, social equity.

We hope that this trip becomes the starting point of a common understanding of the key objectives of future research on urban transport and health in South America, and of the possible means to secure funding to implement that research.

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Chalkboard full of ideas after the São Paulo workshop

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