In the month of June 2018, Rio de Janeiro hosted important events of bicycle theme: Bicicultura, which is the bigger national meeting, Velo-City which is the most important international reference of cycling mobility, the Latin American Meeting of Bicycle-Sharing Systems, and the 100 Gurias 100 Medo Festival (100 Girls without Fear Festival), that is a synergy of cyclist and feminist causes. In addition to official programs, many independent activities took place in different areas of the city and metropolitan region.
Velo-City, the biggest bicycle conference in the world, happens annually alternating European and non-European cities as hosts. This edition was the first hosted by a Latin American country, which encouraged the Brazilian audience and Latin American projects to take part.
Throughout the four days of the event, several issues related to bicycle mobility were discussed: policies and projects, cycling infrastructure performance, bike-sharing systems, socioeconomic researches, societal initiatives, and actions to promote mobility by bicycle. The full schedule is available on the Velo-City 2018 website and the presented content can also be explored through the European Cyclists Federation media coverage.
Global experiences sharing makes the inequality of cycling mobility in the world much more noticeable. While in European countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, people discuss about quality of service – including goals as Copenhagen’s, that aims to achieve fifty percent of bicycle travels by 2025 – some African cities still try to break the paradigm of cyclist marginalization, and most of Latin American cities have insufficient infrastructure and almost no data monitoring on cycling mobility. Even within Brazilian territory, public management efforts vary widely according to the city, and Fortaleza has emerged as a benchmark for cycling policy.
In recent years, cycling network has grown 234 percent and the city currently has four different bicycle-sharing systems, three of them with focus on intermodality with bus, child cyclists, and commuting of municipal servers. Combining investments in infrastructure and bike-share service, the city has one of the most used systems in Brazil, with an average of six bicycle trips per day, of which 75 percent are to work, study or shop. Attentive to Healthy Urban Mobility, the Fortaleza management will monitor the health of the five most frequent users of the bike-sharing, quantifying the system’s health benefits.
Bike-sharing systems worldwide have proved to increase the number of new cyclists, attracting people who use other modes of transportation. Finally, it is important to highlight the promotion of trips made by women, which is one of the greatest challenges of Latin American contexts.
*Text by Sabrina Machry, HUM Project’s researcher.