Rio de Janeiro is rapidly becoming Latin America´s most cycle friendly city. With 405 kilometer of bike lanes, it has more cycle paths than any other city in Latin America. And it doesn´t stop there. Next year, when the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held, the aim is to have 450 kilometer of cycle lanes throughout Rio de Janeiro.
‘Rio took the lead in Latin America - next to Bogotá - with the implementation of the bicycle as a means of transport for short distances´, concluded Rio´s environmental secretary, Carlos Alberto Vieira Muniz recently.
According to him the culture of biking in Rio is developing in a very positive way. Cycling is turning into a serious alternative for transport for the people of Rio. Vieira Muniz stated also that more and more space is being created to bike in Rio. He says: ‘With the creation of bike lanes, bike racks and awareness, we are rising the interest of our society. To give you an idea: in 2010 only 1 percent of women in town used the bicycle. Today more it is more than 40 percent.´
Nowadays the use of a car as a mode of transport is becoming increasingly complicated, because of the growing number of traffic jams, and the number of cars on the streets. It is also one of the reasons why foreign visitors are showing more interest in doing bike tours in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of getting stuck in traffic, they see the city and the beaches by bike without losing time. It is even possible to visit Sugarloaf Mountain by bicycle; different bike lanes, from Copacabana or Botafogo beach, lead to this famous tourist attraction.
As a result of these developments, over the past five years, the city has reduced the number of fatal accidents involving bicycles and cyclists by 58 percent, according to data from the Mortality Information System of Brazil´s Ministry of Health.
According to the city´s environmental secretary Vieira Muniz, there have been no fatal accidents involving cyclist in the city since 2014. One of the main factors for the drop in deaths are awareness campaigns to improve interaction between motorists and cyclists on the road. Rio´s Bike Capital program, of the department of Environment, is one of the driving forces behind this development. The initiative includes activities related to education directed to participants in daily traffic, but it also encourages the use different means of transport, like bicycles.
The president of the Cycling Safety Committee of Rio de Janeiro, Raphael Pazos,notes that the decrease in fatal accidents registered by the Ministry of Health´s research indicates a new momentum, a new era for cyclists in Rio de Janeiro.
The last five years carioca´s, as the inhabitants of Rio are called, have been going through a transformation concerning cycle culture, its popularity growing very day. He says: ´With every kilometer of bike path or bike lane built, the government says to society: Go cycling. This makes it possible to see a considerable increase in people using the bicycle for transportation, in tourism, leisure and business. With more cyclists on the streets, there will be greater understanding of the rights and duties of everyone active in traffic.`
The extension of bike lanes will come in handy for next year, when the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will be held. Dutch brewery Heineken, sponsor of the Dutch Olympic team, already ordered 280 bikes that are going to be brought to Rio de Janeiro next year. The bicycles will be available as a means of transport for the Dutch athletes and other people during the games.