Pills of reality in São Paulo – 29/09/2021 – Jorge Abrahão

The analysis of data from recent surveys reveals the weaknesses and, at the same time, suggests some ways to overcome challenges in the city of São Paulo. Next, I highlight some of the main findings of the research carried out by Rede Nossa São Paulo, mainly in mobility, carried out in partnership with IPEC (formerly Ibope) since 2007, and in the special edition of the Mapa da Inigualdade, published this September, and that points out the unequal effects of Covid-19 in São Paulo from the perspectives of race/color, income and place of residence in the city.

Changes mobility in the city when activities are resumed
Walking was the means of transportation that grew the most, reaching 20% ​​of the population. Unemployment is one of the factors that can explain the change. The bus is still responsible for transporting 1/3 of the population and 25% of São Paulo citizens use the car. Only 1% use the bicycle as a means of transport, which is still a privilege of young men and those with higher incomes. The reduction of violence and greater road safety are the main reasons that would make people use this modal more.

The economic crisis impacts mobility
About 35% stop using a car due to the price of fuel, while the city reaches its highest rate of people who use walking as a means of transportation.

35% say they would use public transport
… as long as the capacity and waiting time were smaller, making clear the challenge of increasing the frequency of buses.

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Risks on sidewalks, bridges and viaducts
A technical note from the Center for Metropolis Studies, linked to USP, points out that sidewalks on the outskirts of the city are narrower than in the central areas. It is exactly in these areas that, historically, walking is the majority. Thus, there would be an urgent need for public policies to improve sidewalks —width, signage, obstacles, unevenness and holes— that generate risk to pedestrians.

Risks on bike paths
About 35% would ride a bicycle if it weren’t for fear of the risk of conflict with cars and buses. We still live in an automobile-oriented city, where most drivers see the pedestrian or cyclist as the enemy.

Unemployment increases
The generation of work and income in a context of economic crisis is a priority to avoid the increase in poverty, in a context in which 43% of people say that their income has decreased in the last year. Emergency aid is proving to be a permanent need in our society.

The number of homeless people explodes
In 2015, there were 16 thousand people living on the city’s streets. In the last census of the homeless population, in 2019, more than 24,000 people were identified, almost double the number of five years before. Since then, this number has only increased, as can be seen around the city, and it is estimated that there are already more than 30,000 people in these conditions.s in São Paulo.

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poor die more than rich
The rule of three applied to man-made problems — such as inequality — has never been more macabre. The special edition of the Inequality Map referring to the effects of Covid-19 in São Paulo points out that, in districts with family incomes four times lower, the number of deaths of people aged up to 60 years was four times higher. The relationship between the difference in income and the number of deaths leaves no doubt about the importance of direct economic support policies. Unequal investments in unequal places is one of the relevant actions to reverse this situation.

One of the biggest comorbidities in cities is inequality
In the map showing the relationship between family income and elderly deaths by Covid-19, the place of residence is decisive: there are twice as many deaths in a poor district compared to a rich district in the city. One way is to invert priorities, directing them to the most vulnerable populations.

Blacks die more than whites
The inequality map confirms the perverse relationship between race and deaths. When comparing the deaths of blacks and whites who live in the same district of the city, another piece of data confirms the structural racism of our society: among the residents of Itaim Bibi, 70% more blacks than whites died per Covid-19 .

Women suffer more violence in the pandemic
Violence against women in the domestic environment grew, highlighting the need to combat sexism. About 83% of women interviewed in the survey of the series “Living in São Paulo: Woman”, launched this year, say that harassment and gender violence have increased in the recent period.

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More ICU beds in wealthier districts
The supply of ICU beds is concentrated in only three of the 32 boroughs in the city, precisely those located in wealthier districts (Pinheiros, Vila Mariana and Sé).

Education is not prepared to be remote
About 84% of the population in São Paulo state that Internet connection problems made it impossible to properly monitor classes during the pandemic. The lack of infrastructure in schools, equipment and internet for students and training for teachers highlights some of the current challenges.

Participation and transparency
The challenges we face are enormous and the creation of mechanisms for participation and transparency are key to overcoming this moment. Collaboration between civil society and governments is an imperative of our situation, and the best way to design solutions.

The message is clear and leaves no doubt as to the priorities and investments that should be made in the city, considering that epidemics and social and climate crises are part of the reality that we pretend not to see, but that will continue until we face them with the attention they deserve.

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