South American cities have been at the vanguard of sustainable transport for decades.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was invented in Curitiba, Brazil, and launched into global prominence by Bogotá, Colombia with Transmilenio in 2000. Today, more and more people in this region are shifting to walking, cycling and public transport, as cities from Santiago to Quito are reconsidering car-oriented policies, and redesigning their streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and improved transit access.

ITDP’s efforts to promote people-centered street design have radically improved cities. São Paulo gained an impressive 400 kilometers of pedestrian and cycling paths. Santiago, Chile won the 2017 Sustainable Transport Award. Fortaleza, Brazil received the Sustainable Transport Award in 2019. And, Bogotá, Colombia, received the Award in 2022 for the second time since 2005. Bicicletadas (Critical Mass rides), bike-sharing programs, investments in greenways and bike paths make biking safer and more attractive to city residents.

While the region offers many best practices that should be replicated, fundamental challenges remain. Through ITDP’s office in Rio de Janeiro, ITDP provides technical assistance to support and expand the progress that has been made, continuing to build on BRT networks, encouraging more high-quality transport, and making streets safer and more accessible for everyone.


Sign up for updates on our projects, events and publications.