Recife Brazil: More Bikes

Bike in Recife

Cargo Bike
A cargo bike like this costs a month’s salary for some.

(Human) Cargo Bike

CD vendor on bike
CD vendor on two wheels.

I previously visited Recife and Olinda in 2005, and for some reason it feels like there are more people riding bikes now… my imagination? perhaps. But bikes make a lot of sense during Carnaval, when streets get closed to traffic, buses get re-routed, and many vendors carry their wares (and visitors their companions) on two wheels.

There is also a sizable majority of the population who cannot afford cars and must rely either on public buses or walking (and the occasional horse), to get around. Bicycles would seem like a good alternative for the brave (see below) who can come up with cash to purchase one. I’m not sure what the going price for regular bicycles is (one cargo bike we saw apparently goes for 300 reais – around $170 US at current exchange rates – which for some people represents an entire month’s salary, but a good investment considering how much it can carry). I saw some bikes even in the most hilly areas of Recife (which tend to be low-income communities) though not many in Olinda, a beautiful historical town with colonial architecture and semi-vertical winding cobblestone streets.

Everyday riding on the main streets here is not for the faint-hearted, as buses careen by at about 50 mph and cars clear their path by beeping their horns as they zip through the scattering pedestrians. One person also told me that a woman riding alone will get robbed of her bike pretty quickly, and whether that is true or not I saw almost no female cyclists.

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