By Marcia Ferraz, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio is a city that inspires exercise in a near-religious fashion. From the runners and cyclists on the beach in Zona Sul to the activities in and around Lagoa, those looking to partake in physical activity are spoiled for choice. But for tourists and business travelers who wish to see the sights while breaking a sweat, the Prefeitura has customized a perfect solution in its ‘Mobilicidade’ program.
The initiative’s name is a combination of ‘mobilidade’ (mobility or movement) and ‘cidade’ (city), and it offers bicycle rental points around the city for short and long distance jaunts alike. Rio’s nucleus is called ‘PedalaRio’, for the verb for ‘pedalar’ (to pedal).
In the style of Paris’s famous ‘Velib’, an abbreviation of ‘vélo liberté’ (bicycle freedom), the system is attracting full-time residents and tourists alike. A bike can be rented from Copacabana Beach, taken to Ipanema, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and Leblon, for example, and left there to be rented by another bicyclist. The easy pick-up and drop-off options means that cycling can be used as both recreation and transport, and need not be brought back to its original location.
Rio de Janeiro boasts 140 kilometers of bike lanes, the largest network in Brazil. 290,000 people use these lanes every day. Many are here on a temporary basis, but the majority are everyday cyclists. Michael Ignacio, a frequent traveler to Rio from New York, said, “The bike rentals allow one to have a healthy lifestyle and stay in shape in Rio while exploring different neighborhoods. The city is perfect for that.”
While Ipanema resident Maria Silva added, “I have been thinking about buying a bicycle, and in the meantime I use ‘PedalaRio’, because it is so uncomplicated and I can return the bike to any station.”
The initiative, taken up by the Prefeitura, was inspired by programs across Europe, with the most successful cases in France, Germany and Scandinavia. It has been considered as an environment initiative as well, to cut traffic in Zona Sul, and as a way to cut a small chunk of fuel emissions in the increasingly polluted areas of the city.
To register, simply log on to www.mobilicidade.com.br. You must be more than eighteen years old and have a credit card at hand. At the bottom of the page, click your nationality (país = country, and passaporte = passport). The next step is to choose a rental time period. The prices are very reasonable, for example, to rent a bike for one day it costs R$10, or R$15 for three days.
You will need a cell phone to call the company and follow its instructions to type a password and get the bike. A refundable deposit of R$260 for potential damages is also required.
Top tip: If a bicycle is rented for under thirty minutes, it is free. You can then return the bike to any station and pick it up again after fifteen minutes to get thirty free minutes. This is a good option for those who prefer to do a no-commitment trial run before renting a bicycle.
The system is user-friendly, operating with the renter’s cell phone to identify the nearest station and remaining time left on the bicycle. Here are some key points where you can find automatic bike stations in Copacabana and Leme:
4230 Atlântica Avenue
Atlântica Avenue / Santa Clara Street
Siqueira Campos (Square / Subway)
Cardeal Arcoverde (Square / Subway)
Atlântica Avenue / Princesa Isabel Avenue
Atlântica Avenue / Alm. Júlio de Noronha Square