21 July 2011

Cargo Bikes in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_2
I am left with thousands of impressions from my recent trip to Brazil. One of the bicycle-related impressions that is not easy to forget is the incredible use of cargo bikes.

In Sao Paulo, I was thrilled to see an armada of bicycles that would make a Copenhagener feel at home. The bicycles we call Short Johns - aka butcher's bike, chimney sweep bike, delivery bike - feature in amazing numbers in the city. Performing the tasks they were designed for - light goods delivery.
Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_1 Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_3
The photos above and below were taken outside the public market in the city centre. The bicycles look rough but ready and are in constant use. All of them are Brazilian makes - indeed Brazil still has an independent bicycle industry. The two biggest companies make 3 million bicycles a year between them - in country.
Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_4 Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_5

Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_6
I didn't get to hear this horn, but would have loved to. It has a pump - at top - that must generate a hell of a noise through that horn.
Sao Paolo Cargo Bike Sao Paolo Cargo Delivery (2)
Throughout the city there are Short Johns in action. I heard from a friend in Sao Paulo that one of the McDonalds delivers by bike! If anyone in SP can photograph that, send it along. Supermarket deliveries by bicycle are also very popular.

Thanks to João Lacerda for snapping this shot of a delivery bicycle from McDonalds delivering 'food' in Sao Paulo. There aren't many places in the world where McDonalds delivers - so great it's by bicycle.

Sao Paolo Cargo Bike_8
Now Brazil is hardly a third-world country anymore and their financial boom is clear to anyone. When you travel with the almighty Danish krone, most places feel cheap. Hell, going to America is like going to India... but I was amazed that the prices in Brazil were on a par with Copenhagen, Sure, working as a bicycle delivery guy may not be considered the top of the corporate ladder for most, but you certainly don't get the impression that it's the very poorest who are doing it. There are respectable uniforms and bicycles with the company name on the side.
Sao Paolo ShortJohn Delivery
Like in other cities - the bicycle delivery guys in New York City spring to mind - these are the working class heroes of the bicycle world. They have my utmost respect. And I love their bikes.