Last Friday, the bicycle-enthusiast and activist group Bicicletada took to the streets of Sao Paulo in order to spread awareness and support of bicycle use in the city, or as Bicicletada participant Paulo Jabardo put it, “To show that we are traffic, too.”
Participants in Friday’s demonstration began riding up to the Praca do Ciclista, or Bicyclist Plaza, more than two hours before the event officially began, to socialize and pass around flyers with information such as traffic laws regarding motorists’ driving near bicycles.
Bicicletada is not just about the demonstration itself, said one rider. Bicicletada events also serve as a place to “converse and exchange ideas.”
At 9 p.m., a group of about 30 cyclists pedaled out of the Praca do Ciclista and rode onto Avenida Paulista, one of Sao Paulo’s most well-known and well-traveled streets, to begin the official demonstration.
Bicicletada will have a demonstration on Sept. 22, in celebration of World Carfree Day.
Cyclists at Friday’s event believed this increased number of demonstrations in September most likely caused Bicicletada participation to be more spread out, resulting in Friday’s low attendance.
The cyclists, however, had high hopes for attendance at the Sept. 22 demonstration, as hundreds of cyclists attended last year’s World Carfree Day ride put on by Bicicletada in Sao Paulo.
The Bicicletada Web site estimates that 500 riders participated in the 2008 World Carfree Day ride.
The route of each Bicicletada demonstration is never pre-determined, though all rides begin at the Praca do Ciclista.
According to Bicicletada participant Afonso Savaglia, the purpose of the Friday night rides is to show the people of Sao Paulo that there exists support for bicycle use in the city and to garner respect for cyclists and the rules that motorists should follow while driving near them.
The name Bicicletada is roughly translated as “full of bicycles.”
It is meant to be a Portuguese rendition of “Critical Mass,” the English name of the now-worldwide bicycle support and awareness movement that started in San Francisco and served as inspiration for the establishment of Bicicletada.
When asked about their reasons for utilizing or supporting bicycle transport in Sao Paulo, Bicicletada participants mentioned wanting to help the environment and having
a desire to improve their health through riding.
Moreover, according to many cyclists at the demonstration on Friday, biking is an efficient way to get around the city.
When compared to driving a car, biking is faster and allows for more freedom.
They advised that people need to “Rethink urban mobility ... the car isn’t everything.”