The City of Belo Horizonte has made a shift to prioritize pedestrians and public transport over private vehicles, benefiting citizens and improving the performance of the already constructed bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

Through simple, low-cost measures in the Mobicentro project, the City of Belo Horizonte has increased the efficiency and mobility of the citizens in the downtown area. This has been achieved through a pedestrian-centric design focus and prioritization of the public transport system. Increasing the time for pedestrian road crossing and implementing diagonal crossings are two ways that the city has shifted the focus back to people and away from vehicles. Finally, a paradigm shift in the development of road projects in Belo Horizonte was implemented, prioritizing pedestrians over motorized vehicles.

The Mobicentro project was influenced by citizens in its creation, and included an educational outreach program after completion. Changing traffic circulation patterns, creating areas of restricted use, and new parking rules were all suggested by the people of Belo Horizonte. The project, “Pedestre, Eu Respeito” (“Pedestrians, I respect them”), has helped to guide pedestrians and created a safer environment for all.

41% reduction in CO2 emissions in the region after the implementation of the project

The challenge

From 1999 to 2013, Belo Horizonte saw an alarming drop in public transportation usage and more than a doubling in the use of motorized vehicles. The BRT system and the Mobicentro project seek to reverse the trend.


Economic The operational speed of Belo Horizonte’s BRT system has increased from 9 km/h to 17 km/h and the buses from 11 km/h to 21 km/h, saving the citizens time in their daily commuting.

Environmental As a result of the city’s interventions, the reduction of emission has been 41% for CO2, 39% for NOx, 68% for volatile organic compounds, and 32% for inhalable particulates. 

Social Prioritizing public transport has benefited those unable to afford private vehicles, and installing traffic lights with sound aids helps those with visual impairments.

Health A decrease in pedestrian-car accidents of 18% has been achieved and a 32% decrease in particulate emissions.

About Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil, the thirteenth largest city in South America and the eighteenth largest city in the Americas. The metropolis is the third most populous metropolitan area in Brazil and the seventeenth most populous in the Americas and is the first planned modern city in Brazil. In planning the city, inspiration was sought in the urban planning of Washington, D.C. The city has employed notable programs in urban revitalization and food security, for which it has been awarded international accolades.

Belo Horizonte
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