Pedaling Towards A Sustainable Future, with Manuel de Araujo

A person riding a bike through the cityscapes during sunset.

Image caption: The downgrade from powered vehicles to bikes is, on many levels, forward thinking. A bright future is ahead as people think and act more consciously. Image credit: Tobias Cornille on Unsplash

Script by: Megan Chan  |  Audio by: Olivia Rounsaville |  Blurb by: Sia Agarwal

Increasing Sustainable Modes of Transportation

In 2022, global emissions from transportation reached nearly 8 gigatons of carbon. To achieve the Net Zero Scenario, transportation emissions need to drop by nearly 25% by 2030. Within the Global South, auto-centric planning, transport authorities’ structures, and alternatives to cars and buses are some of the challenges in sustainable transportation. 

Transforming transportation is Mayor Manuel de Araújo’s vision for his city, Quelimane, Mozambique. To reduce transportation-related emissions, he advocates for a network of bike lanes throughout the city. Threatened by climate change disasters such as flooding, Quelamine is developing a climate resilient and sustainable public transportation system. 

Cycling in the City 

Cities with growing populations such as Quelimane are using alternative forms of public transportation to get more cars off the road. To increase the usage of bikes, the city plans to connect market and residential areas with bike lanes, totaling a distance of 2.3 kilometers. Planting trees along roads to provide shade, installing brick barriers to protect bikes from fast moving traffic, and making overall enhancements to roads aims to ease the transition to cycling. 

Biker-friendly programs have encouraged the cycling culture in other cities as well. In Addis Ababa, cycling advocates began the campaign Streets for the People: on the last Sunday of every month, certain roads are open only to bikes. These roads see hundreds of bicyclists, families, and other participants, creating a sense of community. 

Advantages to Cycling 

Biking can help reduce cities’ carbon footprints, improve air quality, and increase accessibility to essential facilities such as school and healthcare in crowded cities. 

Compared to cars, bikes produce significantly less carbon emissions. As much as 67% of transportation-related carbon emissions can be saved if a person chooses a bike over a car for one day. Moreover, existing buses and cars are rapidly deteriorating due to age, emitting excessive pollution; by moving away from older technology, cities with bikers can improve their air quality. 

Installing bike infrastructure combats accessibility issues in urban sprawl. In Quelimane, bike lanes help citizens navigate uneven terrain of the cities’ narrow roads, roads which cars usually can’t access. The city wants to expand the network of bike lanes to crucial areas such as the airport, the city center, and the sea port. 

Thanks to the influx of cyclists, bike shops have popped up along frequented routes. Cyclists are provided cost effective and timely repairs if needed. 

Difficulties with Biking Solutions 

However, many cities’ existing infrastructures are car-centric, deterring wide-spread bicycle usage. In Quelimane, a lack of biking infrastructure poses a threat to bikers’ safety. Without physical barriers between cars and bikes, road injuries are common. Additionally, intense sun and a lack of shade makes biking an uncomfortable experience. Once bikes complete their journey, there aren’t safe storage options to prevent bicycle theft. 

A Campaign for Sustainability

Thanks to Mayor de Araújo’s ten-year campaign, Quelimane has become a city known for its biking culture. By using bikes himself, he has destigmatized negative associations with cycling. Now called ‘sons of the Mayor’, locals using bikes have been united by cycling. Quelimane is a member of the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance, a global collaboration that works towards a zero carbon transportation system by 2050. Funding from this organization has supported de Araújo’s projects in making more bike lanes in his city. 

About Manuel de Araújo

Manuel de Araújo is the mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique. By involving people’s voices in policymaking, he hopes for his bike lane network to be part of a larger, low-carbon mobility system. Communicating through radio, social media, and other accessible platforms, de Araujo shares his passion for sustainable transportation with his constituents. Not only does de Araújo make change today, he plans for a future with a robust, sustainable transportation program.  

Further Reading 


Transcript

Ethan: I’m Ethan Elkind, and you’re listening to Climate Break. Climate solutions in a hurry. Today’s solution: building a network of bike lanes in cities in the Global South to reduce emissions from internal combustion engines. Manuel de Araujo is the mayor of Quelimane City in Mozambique and a member of the Transportation Decarbonisation Alliance, or TDA. With financial support facilitated by organizations like the TDA, he has made bike lanes a priority in his city. 

Mr. de Araujo: Though we have some larger roads, most of them are quite narrow, meaning that they cannot cater for the amount of people and goods that are needed in, in the time that I will call efficient.

Ethan: To improve mobility and encourage biking, he made substantial physical transformations to the roads.

Mr. de Araujo: We started just by painting the pavement to separate the cycling lanes with the main road. Nobody was respecting, not the cyclists, nor those with the car or the motorcycles so we had to really build bricks to make sure that people respect.

Ethan: Mayor Araujo is focused on helping the public become more familiar with the benefits of biking and safe bike lanes.

Mr. de Araujo: To change the mindset, so we’ve been doing education through radio, through other media, through the internet. I cycle and people see me cycling, then today cycling in my city is their passion because the mayor cycles. That’s why I normally say that if you wanna effect change uh, the best way is you, yourself as a leader, to embrace the change.

Ethan: To learn more about making cities safer for biking in the Global South, visit climatebreak.org

Pedaling Towards A Sustainable Future, with Manuel de Araujo