Jaime Lerner is an architect, urban planner and a Brazilian politician. He was the mayor of Curitiba for three times (from 1971 to 1975, from 1979 to 1983 and from 1989 to 1992) and implemented the Bus Rapid Transit (also called as Rede Integrada de Transporte) and improved the social, ecological and urban reforms during his terms as mayor.
In this Ted Talk he talks about the changes he implemented in the city of Curitiba. He starts his speech saying that “City is not a problem, it’s a solution. And more and more, I’m convinced that it’s not only a solution for a country, but it’s a solution for the problem of climate change.”
He says that in almost 40 years a lot of mayors of different cities tried to tell him that their cities are very big or that they can’t find enough financial resources. But Jaime always said that any city can be improved in less than three years. Yes, only three years.
But, how is it possible? Well, it is possible because he believe that every problem in a city has to have its own equation of co-responsibility and also a design.
He compares a city with a turtle, that’s because a turtle is the best example of equality of life, for the reason that is an example of living and working together. However in our cities we are living here, working there and having leisure outside the city.
And while a car carries only one or two people and is asking always for more infrastructure, there are buses that can carry 300 people.
In his city, Curitiba, there are 1.800.000 people in the city and three million in the metropolitan area. So he started in 1974 new politics to improve the transport. So he started creating more public transport in the areas where were more density. As simple as that. In 1974 they started with only 25.000 passengers a day, now, almost thirty years before the public transport is used by two million and half passengers per day.
They were the first people to implement the BRT system in a city. And now, more than 90 cities all over the world have that system. Most of them in Central and South America.
One of the best thing that they did in the BRT system was to create the boarding tube, where you can pay before entering the bus you are entering. So, it works like a subway.
While he wants to say is that the major contribution on carbon emissions are form the cars, more than fifty percent. So it’s not to make war against cars. It’s about trying to make the connections between all the systems. We have to combine all of them.
He jokes about the car is like your mother-in-law, I mean, you have to have good relationship with her, but she cannot command your life.
And one of the best ways to improve the cities is by children. If you teach a children during six months to separate their garbage, they’ll learn it. And after this six months, they’ll force their parents to recycle all their lives. Or at least since they become independent.