São Paulo is becoming more bike-minded. This does not seem surprising, regarding the global trend of urban bike culture as an alternative to car use and public transport, or as a hip subculture. But those who know the city of São Paulo and its inhabitants, will affirm that a revolution is taking place.
This city of car lovers and manufacturers, hills and valleys, broad avenues and potholes, is probably one of the most bike-unfriendly environments on the planet. The average driver here has been tormented for years by traffic jams and strings of ´motoboys´ that zigzag their way through traffic as mavericks. For him, two-wheelers are the enemy. Biking may have a promising future in the city, in the light of increasing congestion and air pollution, if only it were a bit safer. I tried to bike to work for a couple of weeks in central São Paulo, but downhill I almost got killed several times, and biking uphill behind a fuming bus or truck equals smoking a pack of cigarettes.
Over the last decade, a small number of bike lanes was implemented, mainly in parks and in the center of arterial roads. The Minhocão viaduct is a well-known meeting place for bikers. More and more bike events and trips have been organized, especially at night and in the weekends. Recently, the municipality organizes temporary bike routes – called Ciclofaixa, that are slowly becoming a network for recreational biking. Hip bike stores are popping up throughout the central area, as well as bike rental points comparable to those in London or Paris. Dozens of municipal employees with red flags, guarding each crossing of the temporary bike lane, remind us that biking is still not completely safe in the city, but at least it´s possible. Big trucks are increasingly banned to the ring roads, and cars are becoming cleaner. As soon as the smaller, greener roads are incorporated into a permanent bike network, São Paulo could be a great place to ride a bicycle.