With the population exploding and pollution on the rise, Lerner began in the early 1970’s by redesigning Curitiba for people rather than for cars. He built beautiful parks and dug lakes to ease flooding. He risked everything by closing the main street off to traffic, turning it into a pedestrian-only plaza; overnight, shopkeepers who had fought him saw that the greenery and walkways would encourage more leisurely gathering – and more shopping.
Tim Gnatek, a partner in Blue Practice, a San Francisco-based marketing company for green-minded enterprise, studied Curitiba’s green policies and says their transit system is now recognized as the best in the world. “They kind of bootstrapped it together with what resources they had at the time,” says Tim, “but it’s brilliant. They put the people close to transit so it would be convenient; and Jaime Lerner invented the long accordion-style bus which you now see in other cities.”
Entire roads, highways and lanes were allocated for busses for speed and efficiency, and an affordable flat rate fee was put into effect so that poorer people who live in outlying areas could get around. The system became so efficient that even people who could afford to drive preferred to take public transit. “There’s one bus line that only goes to hospitals,” Tim says, “and a dedicated line for tourists – which takes you to all the green destinations.”
That’s groovin’ with the woowoo!