Fortaleza is a centennial city that has its history linked to Dutch roots. Learn more about the city's history at: http://www.visitfortaleza.com/ceara/history.html
Fortaleza, known by its gorgeous beaches and landscapes, has been developing in the last few years, measures to increase the attractiveness of the non-motorized transportation, by taking out automobiles of the focus of the overall transportation planning, and to improve the road safety, by conducting studies of traffic accidents risk factors with the support of international partners.
The city of Fortaleza, capital of the Ceará state, is the fifth largest city in the Country with a population of approximately 2.5 million inhabitants and a density of 7786 inhabitants/km², representing the most density city in Brazil. In Fortaleza there are about 1.0 million vehicles (automobiles = 560K and motorcycles = 280K) with an average increase of 41,000 vehicles per year. In terms of traffic accidents, in the past 5 years the number of occurrences has remained around 25,000 accidents per year (and over 300 fatalities per year) in the city, indicating an alarming situation.
The construction of a more attractive environment for non-motorized transportation users has been promoted with the increase of the supply of bicycle paths and bike-sharing systems and of cyclists’ and pedestrians’ safety. The program Bicicletar, developed by the city hall, consists in 80 bicycle stations strategically distributed in the city that offer bicycles with a low cost for the population. The stations are located near to bus stops and allow users to travel long distances without using individual vehicles. Nowadays, there are 50 km of bicycle paths in Fortaleza. The planners’ goal is to achieve 542 km of asphalted paths covering almost every zone of the city in 15 years, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Bicycle network aimed in 15 years (Source: Plano Cicloviário Diretor de Fortaleza, 2014)
Besides the increasing infrastructure for the use of non-motorized transportation, the city is also experiencing a new attitude in order to enhance the education level for both users of motorized and non-motorized transportation. Traffic enforcement cameras have been installed in bicycle paths and as well as traffic signs. Traffic calm zones have been implemented in locations with intense pedestrian flow, such as zones near hospital, schools, universities and commercial centers. Reduction of the speed limit, construction of elevated pedestrian crossings and intense signaling are the common implementations in traffic calming zones in Fortaleza.
Fortaleza is one of the 10 cities in the world selected to participate in an international initiative to develop studies focused on risk factors for accidents and create means to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in these cities in low- and middle-income countries. The risk factors are: helmet use, seat-belt use, speed and drinking and driving. The research is based on observational data collection of non-compliance of the factors. Combined with the research, advertisements and safety policies have been shown for the population, in order to increase the compliance of the factors. The main goal of the research is to verify the potential of propagation of safety means in the compliance of each risk factor and in possible reduction of severe and fatal traffic accidents.
The initial results shown by the Autarquia Municipal de Trânsito e Cidadania de Fortaleza (AMC), entity responsible to manage accidents data, are promising: it was verified a reduction of 13,1% in fatal accidents in the first semester of 2016 (126) when compared to the first six months of 2015 (145). However, due to the aleatory and rare characteristics of the accident phenomenon, it is necessary to observe for a couple more years the frequency of fatal accidents to confirm that these measures taken by the city planners are really reducing the number of accidents.