Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Extreme traffic congestion in São Paulo

I recently missed a flight from São Paulo to Madrid despite setting out for the airport three and a half hours ahead of time. This is what my Google Maps Navigation app was telling me as I tried to guide the taxi through the least congested routes:


You can see that Marginal Tietê (horizontal road at the top of the screencap) was not the best place to be at that time (neither was Avenida Veinte Tres de Maio or any of the main traffic arteries for that matter). This is quite normal though and at 18:50 on a weekday it's especially bad.

The fact that it's so normalised is interesting because it starts to change drivers' behaviours. Veja Magazine recently asked Paulistanos to tweet what they do in their cars when sitting out the traffic and the responses included:

I read books
I cut my nails
I kiss my partner
I sing
and of course quite a few people said they tweeted

But the one that stole the show for me was a girl who said that there was no single answer and that she did whatever she would normally be doing at the time, her example was that if it was lunch time, then so be it, lunch it was, and she would eat in the car.

It reminds me of the answer I always give to Brazilian friends when they ask what we do back home in the UK where it rains so often. Well we do whatever we were planning to do, I tell them. Perhaps human ability to accept and adapt depends on the extremity and permanence of the situation which might be why Brits have a thing called road rage and Brazilians stay at home when it rains...

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