Two nights ago, the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, became the 2014 winner of the 9th annual Sustainable Transport Award. The City is receiving this international honor for their improvements to urban mobility, reduction of CO2 emissions, and improvement of safety for pedestrians and cyclists in the past year. The award was received by Buenos Aires Secretary of Transportation Guillermo Dietrich, saying the success of the Buenos Aires proves that “you can dream of a sustainable city”.
The awards were hosted by former Transportation Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, former Janette Sadik-Khan. Also in attendance were representatives from the three honorable mentions: Mr. Lee Jae-Joon, the 2nd Vice Mayor of Suwon, South Korea; Mr. Akash Tripathi, Collector for the iBus in Indore, India; and Mr. Wang Youping, director of Project Management in Lanzhou, China.
In 2013, Buenos Aires gave its 9th de Julio avenue, the widest avenue in the world, an impressive transit makeover. The city replaced several of 9th de Julio’s more than 20 lanes of car traffic with bus-only lanes for a high-quality bus rapid transit (BRT) system. The BRT has 17 stations along the median, accommodating 11 bus lines and improving travel for 200,000 passengers per day. In addition, Buenos Aires opened a new 23-kilometer BRT corridor, Metrobus Sur, and has transformed dozens of blocks in the city center into an environment that encourages walking and cycling over driving, and promoting a culture that prioritizes people over cars.
Walter Hook, Chief Executive Officer of ITDP, praised the city’s work, saying “the downtown area, known as the microcentro, is a completely new pedestrian experience. They city reconstructed the streetscape with seating, bollards, way finding, and redesigned intersections that give priority to the pedestrian. This sends a powerful message that this is a city for people, not just for cars.”
Each of this year’s honorable mentions were notable for implementing big changes in mid-sized cities. Indore, India won for for the successful implementation of iBus, the second true BRT corridor in India. iBus has set a new standard for public transport in India, providing a safe, efficient and high quality bus system for 30,000 passengers per day. The city has also fighting political pressure and an order of the High Court to open bus-only lanes to private car traffic. Mr. Tripathi, accepting the award, spoke hopefully that the city will prevail in preserving the dedicated lanes, as many in the governement have seen how well the system “is working for the common man”.
Suwon, South Korea has made long term improvements to its cycling and walking infrastructure following the the 2013 EcoMobility World Festival. These improvements include wider sidewalks, cycle lanes, and creation of five “pocket parks”.
Lanzhou, China’s BRT system, which began operation this year, is the second highest capacity system in Asia, after Guanghzou, China (itself a past STA winner). Commenting on the city’s innovative and context specific station design, Ms. Sadik-Khan said the Lanzhou, BRT “has it all!”. Lanzhou was also notable for its integration of Transit-oriented Development projects along the corridor.
ITDP congradulates all of the honorees for their leadership and vision in building sustianble cities.
The Sustainable Transport Award finalists and winner are chosen by a Committee that includes the most respected experts and organizations working internationally on sustainable transportation. The Committee includes:
Established in 2005, the Sustainable Transport Award has been given annually to a city that has implemented innovative and sustainable transportation projects in the past year. These strategies must improve mobility for all residents, reduce transportation greenhouse and air pollution emissions, as well as improve safety and access for cyclists and pedestrians. Finalists are selected by an international committee of development experts and organizations working on sustainable transportation.