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Bicycle lanes are moving everyone forward

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FORTALEZA, BRAZIL – The intersection of Avenida Leste Oeste and Avenida Pasteur in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza was always tricky to navigate by bicycle, especially heading east as three lanes of car traffic became two.

Data show that every 60 minutes during rush hour, 360 cyclists had to maneuver around and between 2,700 cars, trucks and motorcycles without any protection.

Such conditions are not conducive for cycling, to say the least. Yet bicycles hold much promise as both a mode of transport and a way for the city’s residents to pursue a more active lifestyle and resist the obesity epidemic sweeping Brazil, where more than half the population is overweight or obese. With obesity rising by more than 67 percent in the last 13 years, the onus was on my administration to make cycling a more popular choice.

Our goal was to make Fortaleza — a beautiful coastal city and Brazil’s fifth-largest municipality, with more than 2.6 million residents — safer as well as healthier. So, we began to adopt incentives to encourage cycling, particularly measures to make it a better transport option.

The most obvious place to begin was with bike lanes. When roads do not contain dedicated lanes, cyclists have few rights and little safety. Between........

© The Japan Times