By Doug Gray, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Pedaling into its 25th edition, Rio’s annual “Um Dia Sem Carro” (One Car-Free Day) is the biggest cycling event of its kind in Latin America. Part of a global initiative to encourage drivers to leave their vehicles at home for 24 hours, organizers hope that this Sunday, September 22nd, will see tens of thousands of cyclists come together in Flamengo Park.
The huge rise in popularity of cycling during the last five years in Brazil has witnessed something of a two-wheel revolution on the roads, with campaign groups like Nuvem fighting for better conditions and more bike lanes in a city where car has always been king.
The Rio Cycling Federation (FECIERJ) estimates that there are some 80 million bikes in use today across the country, with the number of cyclists now five times what it was just fifteen years ago.
There remain huge threats to their safety, however. A triathlete was hit by a bus during training in Ipanema earlier this year, leading to new laws governing priority on certain roads in the early hours of the morning when they are quieter and, usually, safer.
The death was one of a spate of such incidents that have highlighted the dangers posed to cyclists when they have to veer off the obvious routes along the beaches and led to calls for their demands to be taken more seriously.
All of which means Sunday’s get-together in the Aterro do Flamengo looks like being a record-breaking event, with over 30,000 people expected to leave their cars in the garage and cycle from Glória Marina to Praia do Botafogo in a four-hour celebration of pollution-free action. Thirteen cycling groups from as far afield as Nova Iguaçu and Ilha do Governador will join the more casual enthusiasts, and anyone can sign up officially or tag on outside of the main group.
Where: Meeting point – Monumento aos Pracinhas, Marina da Glória, 8AM.
When: September 22, 2013 – 9AM departure time
Entrance: R$5 (sign up at any Rio bike shop)
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.