The UN-HABITAT programme, Localising Agenda 21, has successfully transformed the transportation system of Cuba’s Bayamo city.
Just four years ago Bayamo suffered lack of pavements, inadequate traffic lanes and poor road signage forcing pedestrians to walk on the streets. In addition to this, the city was still suffering the consequences of the 1990s crisis which had brought petrol shortages as well as a lack of spare parts for omnibuses. The number of Traffic conflict points was high and the entire transport system was unreliable. As a result, all sorts of imaginative transport alternatives such as “all-purpose” bicycles and horse-drawn carriages were integrated into the transport system by the residents. These two modes of transport ultimately took care of 85 percent of local transport needs.
However in 2002 the Localising Agenda 21 project was launched in Bayamo. The town’s residents identified transportation as a key issue of concern. LA21 brought all the concerned stakeholders together to discuss ways to improve the transport situation. Following negotiations, an agreement was reached between the municipal authorities, police, private transport associations, informal sector representatives and community leaders.
As a result of this synergy, appropriate lanes were constructed to facilitate bicycle and pedestrian mobility. New lanes were built for horse-drawn carriages and bicycle carts, which now operate on a regulated fare system. The new facilities provide mobility solutions for the city’s population of about 200,000 people, including the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, while preserving Bayamo’s charming character.
The success of the LA21 Bayamo city project in bringing people together to find innovative solutions for problems in the urban environment has made it an example for replication in other Cuban cities.