Transportation and physical activity in São Paulo, Brazil


Transporte e atividade física em São Paulo, Brasil


Transporte y actividad física en São Paulo, Brasil



Gustavo Silveira GraudenzI,II; Aleixo Leopoldo da Cunha MenezesII

IFaculdade de Medicina, Universidade Nove de Julho, São Paulo, Brasil
IIMestrado em Gestão Ambiental e Sustentabilidade, Universidade Nove de Julho, São Paulo, Brasil




The revision published by Becerra et al. 1 in the April 2013 issue touches on interesting aspects of health and transportation in three Latin American cities, and the inclusion of Latin America's biggest city, São Paulo, using the same methodology may increase interest in the subject.

According to the 2010 Census, São Paulo city has 11,253,503 inhabitants and has a Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system that transports around 13 million people per year, but is considered less important when compared to the underground rapid transport system (the metro), that carries over 4.5 million people per day. Since 2007 it is permitted to transport bicycles inside the underground trains during weekends and holidays. The integration of transportation and leisure using bicycles has been increasing considerably since 2009 when governmental and the private initiatives created bicycle routes.

Biking routes have expanded since then and the city currently has 112 kilometers of such routes in the city, with an average of 100,000 participations per day when the routes are open. In spite of the increased use of bicycles for recreation purposes it represents only 4% of total bike journeys in Sao Paulo, whereas cycling to work represents 70% 2,3.

Bike Sampa is a service for letting or renting bicycles in the city that aims to stimulate the use of this form of transportation. Since it began in May 2012, it has provided 220,000 trips during its first year. Most users (60%) use this transport during the week, in rush hours and for short trips of less than 15 minutes (the maximum time period for free rides), 85% of users rent/let bicycles up to five times per week and 45% of users integrate bicycle services with the metro 4.

Interestingly, when analyzing physical activity during transportation, differences between genders and in social positions can be found. An average inhabitant of São Paulo spends around 69 minutes per week in physical activities during transportation, with men being more active than women 5. In addition, the presence of vehicles in the household was associated positively with physical inactivity in transportation, both for men and women 6.

In spite of the benefits of physical activity during transportation, there has been an increase of 150% in the number of cars circulating in São Paulo from 1.2 million in 1999 to 3 million in 2009. Detailed numbers for transportation in Sao Paulo are described in Table 1.

Taken together, there is no complete integration of transport and physical activity as a part of everyday routines in São Paulo, in spite of the initiative to increase the use of bicycles as a part of leisure transportation. Healthy and sustainable transportation in megacities is an important matter of debate.



G. S. Graudenz contributed to the project conception, bibliographic research, article writing and English version. A. L. C. Menezes contributed to the bibliographic research and article writing. Both authors approved the final version.



Fundo de Apoio à Pesquisa da Universidade Nove de Julho.


1. Becerra JM, Reis RS, Frank LD, Ramirez-Marrero FA, Welle B, Cordero EA, et al. Transport and health: a look at three Latin American cities. Cad Saúde Pública 2013; 29:654-66.         

2. Companhia do Metropolitano de São Paulo. O uso de bicicletas na RMSP. Relatórios, estudos e pesquisas. http://www.metro.sp.gov.br/sic/relatorios/index.aspx (accessed on 17/May/2013).         

3. Ciclocidade. Estatísticas sobre uso de bicicletas em São Paulo. http://www.ciclocidade.org.br/biblioteca/estatisticas%3E (accessed on 18/ May/2013).         

4. Associação Nacional de Transportes Públicos. Bilhete Único será integrado com projeto Bike Sampa. http://antp.org.br/website/noticias/show.asp?npgCode=51CC6ABA-30D6-4F4D-97461C2FD2A9AECC%3E (accessed on 19/May/2013).         

5. Florindo AA, Guimarães VV, Cesar CL, Barros MB, Alves MC, Godlbaum M. Epidemiology of leisure, transportation, occupational, and household physical activity: prevalence and associated factors. J Phys Act Health 2009; 6:625-32.         

6. Hérick de Sá T, Salvador EP, Florindo AA. Factors associated with physical inactivity in transportation in Brazilian adults living in a low socioeconomic area. J Phys Act Health 2012; [Epub ahead of print]          .



G. S. Graudenz
Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Nove de Julho.
Rua Vergueiro 235, São Paulo, SP
1504-000, Brasil.

Submitted on 26/May/2013
Approved on 12/Jun/2013

Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil
E-mail: cadernos@ensp.fiocruz.br