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By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following the inauguration of the first stretch of Rio’s costal bike path in January, the second stretch, from São Conrado to Barra de Tijuca, is moving closer to completion. Christened the Tim Maia ciclovia after the famous Brazilian singer, the path will eventually go from Leme to Pontal, as he sang in his song of the same name.

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When the extension of the cycle path is complete Zona Sul will be connected to Recreio, via São Conrado beach (pictured), photo by Georgia Grimond.

According to the city, more than 94 percent of the 3.1-kilometer extension is complete. Much of it is already lined with guardrails, for example, but some big works remain. The path needs to be at least two meters wide when it goes through the tunnel at São Conrado and the rock there has yet to be cut.

When completed the cycle path, which is also used by pedestrians, will run for 36 kilometers, linking Zona Sul (South Zone) with the westerly neighborhoods of São Conrado, Joá, Barra and Recreio.

The path runs between the coast and the busy roads that connect the various neighborhoods. The new extension will begin at the west end of São Conrado beach, follow the Elevado das Bandeiras on the left hand side before entering the Joá tunnel and arriving at the Praia dos Amores in Barra.

Reluctant to give an exact date for the completion of the extension, president of Geo-Rio who are building the path, Marcio Marchado, said it would be finished by July, in time for the Olympic Games which will largely take place in Barra da Tijuca in August and September.

“The workers are working in three shifts, from Sunday to Sunday,” says Machado. “We will also finish the painting, make the markings and complete the passage of arrival at Praia da Barra.”

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Rio’s new cycle path, Ciclovia Tim Maia, is popular with bicyclists and pedestrians at the weekends and commuters during the week, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

The opening of the first stretch of the ciclovia was overshadowed by criticism of the quality of the work and worries about security. Some people using the pathway at night were assaulted. As guardrails run down either side of it, there is few options for getting off it once on.

However, since then cyclists and pedestrians alike having been making use of the path and enjoying its glorious views.

Leandro Aquino, who works in marketing, lives in Barra but whose office in Leblon, welcomes the new cycle path: “I cycle on the beach on weekends. But with the bike path, I can escape the traffic jams by going to work by bicycle.”

Whether on a bike or on foot, the Quisque do Canto at the east end of São Conrado beach serves a welcome coconut and has a selection of second-hand books to read. Further along the beach is Gávea Beach and Fun Club, an authentic Italian kiosk with excellent pasta and seafood dishes. On arriving in Leblon, sunset views can be appreciated at the Mirante do Leblon and a well-deserved caipirinha drunk at the Casa da Cachaça kiosk nearby.

It takes approximately an hour to walk from the end of Leblon beach to the middle of São Conrado beach.

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