A number of actions were staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in observance of the World Car-Free Day, celebrated since 1997. The Secretariat of the Environment handed out fliers and stickers with a view to raising awareness among drivers about the benefits of riding a bicycle.
Environment Secretary Carlos Portinho says, “For short distances, we argue for the use of bicycles. Rio is a city with lots of natural attractions. Riding a bike in your everyday life is a matter of habit. We can invest in more cycle lanes, so that people ride bicycles not just for fun, but also on their way to work,” he stated.
Secretary Kátia dos Santos, 26, rides her bicycle to go to work from home. “They want us to ride a bike more often, but they only build cycle lanes in South Rio, for tourists.
Those in the North and downtown are forced to share the space with cars and buses. I was close to being hit by a vehicle several times, because people drive overtake you and don’t respect the cyclists,” she argued.
Driving assistant Isabel Garçoni, 32, is another rider. “There are cycle lots of lanes where I live, but some are really poor. Many don’t even connect – which could be very simply fixed,” she stated, adding that in addition to infrastructure, investing in traffic education is also important.
“Bikes are a vehicle too, and cyclists, drivers and pedestrians need to understand rules better so they can be safe,” she warned.
As for engineering student Felipe Barreto, 24, he supports the use of collective means of transportation, but calls for better conditions.
“Campaigns for raising awareness are not enough. There must be investments in public transportation. Subway trains are always packed. So, even with a lot of traffic, people who have cars prefer the comfort to the bustle of everyday life,” he argued.
According to data on the municipality of Rio de Janeiro, Rio is the capital city with the largest network of cycle lanes in Latin America.
Nearly 1.5 million trips are made by bicycle in the city every day, including small trips, delivery and other services, which account for 5 percent of the total.
The city hall estimates that this number should increase by 15 percent by 2019;