Bumbá Meu Moto-Boi: Crosstown Traffic in Old São Paulo (Vote Quimby)

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“City gives up on exclusive motorcyle lane” (G1/Globo). After one day, if I am understanding this correctly.

O guarda ele quis me autuar
O guarda ele quis me autuar
Me disse que até ia ajudar
O prefeito a se candidatar
E o outro candidato eliminar
O guarda ele quis me autuar
Zebu Cavaco and his Cur-Deus Homos

I had a very long day yesterday, and the CPTM commuter train, plagued by delays because of upstream track repairs, presented a queue that reminded me of the line for the Magic Mountain roller coaster at Disneyland when it first opened, years and years ago.

So I decided to take a cab from an unfamiliar ponto.

This is a risky procedure, as I should have known, but I was extremely, extremely tired.

As a result, my cheerful cabbie got us incredibly, incredibly lost — I said Sumarezinho, not Sumaré — and I wound up paying R$50 for a guided tour of the entire city that got me nowhere nearer my final destination.

Which was: a plate of medium-rare miolo de alcatra, a lovely salad with olives, an impressively gooey heartland-produced cheese of some unidentifiable variety, balsamic vinegar and field greens, and a bottle of Mendoza cabernet, consumed on our big, fat sofa beside my good wife, watching a subtitled version of Scorcese’s After Hours.

Appropriately enough, given that my day was also all about misadventures in urban transportation.

At one point, I handed the cell phone to the driver, with my wife on the other end.

When the driver returned the phone to me, my wife said, forcefully, “Your driver is deeply disturbed, and possibly dangerously insane. Get out of that cab ASAP and get on the subway.” My wife is always right, of course, so I did just that.

On the bright side, during my whirlwind tour of rush-hour traffic, I was able to observe a couple of civic improvement projects that have earned a lot of attention — and derision — recently.

One was the sidewalk improvement project on the Avenida Paulista, the other a sudden mayoral decree banning the practice motorcyclists have of zipping along between cars in the endemic (pandemic) stop-and-go traffic.

See also

The incumbent São Paulo version of “Diamond Joe” Quimby of Simpsons fame is running for reelection. He has now reportedly embarked on a whirlwind, pre-nomination campaign of “one public improvement per day” to go along with a notable prime-time advertising blitz — including “back to back to back” TV spots during the Jornal Nacional and the prime-time soap opera on Globo.

Where is all the money coming from for those spots, anyway? We understood that partisan advertising was limited by law to the obligatory free political announcements bloc that the networks provide. In theory. (See also TSE Clips Toucans Over Tirades, Cancels Communists).

Anyway, as far as I could see with my own eyes, the spectacular facelift at the corner of Av. Paulista and Consolação, scheduled to snarl traffic in the area for months, has to date only managed to jackhammer up about 20 square meters of the distinctive, rough-hewn, black and white mosaic sidewalk. And has yet to replace a single square mm with the attractive and durable space-age compound the (rather fuzzy) proposal for the project had induced me to envision.

Meanwhile, even as the city government hastily withdraws an attempt to crack down on the, er, highly creative and wildly improvisational use — think Ornette Coleman or Mingus — of urban roadway space by motorcylists , I spot some hastily erected signage inviting motorcyclists to ride in the faixa cidadã — the “citizenship lane.”

A euphemism with a certain sinister ring to it, I thought, like the infamous “joy divisions” or “great leap forward” or “year of living dangerously.”

The lane was to be marked with a diamond (blue diamonds, yellow moons, purple hearts, green clovers: magically delicious). But in some spots it seems that had put the signage up but not marked the asphalt with the diamond in question.

In any event, highly irregular joy battalions of motorcyclists were observed cheerfully ignoring the invitation to be good citizens and wait in traffic like everyone else, rather than crashing through any available opening — sidewalks, sometimes — like OJ Simpson on one of his glorious, shambling, open-field rampages toward the end zone, back in the day.

Very few featured the new helmet certification sticker — which in any event, motorcyclists are complaining was so cheaply produced that it washes off the helmet the first time it rains.

The Estado de S. Paulo reported that the special lane plane was withdrawn from a major avenue during its first day after a massive traffic pile-up resulted. The traffic engineering agency, the CET, came in for a round, often obscene, mocking by every taxi driver I talked to last week.

A correspondent writes in to Luis Nassif on the motorcycle debacle.

Oi Nassif, Queria falar sobre as motos.

[tktktktktk]

Eu renovei minha Carteira Nacional de Habilitação no fim do ano passado. Por conta disso tive que ir atrás do tal curso em um CFC.

[tktktktktk]

Uma das coisas que me chamou a atenção, e que percebo que não é respeitado por quase ninguém, é o fato das leis de trânsito sempre darem prioridades ao “lado fraco” nas relações de trânsito. Isso quer dizer que o pedestre é prioritário sobre motos, carros e ônibus. As motos têm a prioridade sobre carros e ônibus. E assim por diante.

[tktktktktk]

Essa priorização visa defender aqueles que tem mais condições de se ferirem em caso de acidentes. Parece nossos conceitos prevalecem da forma inversa. Ou seja, quanto maior e mais forte, mais vantagens toma-se no trânsito. Ônibus não respeitam os carros, que por sua vez não respeitam as motos. E assim vai até o pobre pedestre.

[tktktktktk]

Aqui no transito paulistano temos uma média de morte de cerca de 1 motoqueiro por dia. Acredito que esse número deva aumentar com o aumento nas vendas das motos (por conta do maior crédito disponível).

[tktktktktk]

Apesar de nossa legislação se preocupar com a segurança de quem pilota as motos na prática não vemos medidas nesse sentido. Diria que uma das poucas medidas que poderia dar alguma segurança aos motoqueiros é essa pista de uso exclusivo para as motos, que funciona muito bem na Av Sumaré e tentaram implementar na Av 23 de Maio. Sem muito sucesso pelo que parece, afinal nosso atual prefeito já diz que essa faixa deve ser removida (da 23 de Maio) até esta sexta-feira. (…)

[tktktktktk]

Adianto que não sou um fã do comportamento médio dos motoqueiros no transito paulistano. Tenho medo sim. Costumo fechar o vidro do carro quando uma moto para ao lado. Mas tudo é uma questão mais preconceituosa que de fato, pois nunca tive problemas de assaltos com motoqueiros.

[tktktktktk]

(…) Quem anda de moto é cada vez mais uma população que pode comprar um veículo de transporte próprio mais barato e os motoboys. Acho que estes são maioria entre os pilotos de moto. Tenho receio que essa percepção de diferentes classes sociais (e mesmo de status) provoque um sentimento preconceituoso generalizado contra as motos. A solução não está em proibir as motos, e sim em integrá-las de forma concreta ao trânsito.

[tktktktktk]

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