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.


Jason Tinkey said...

I saw a lot of jury-rigged cargo bikes in Honduras, as well.



Jaclyn McKewan said...

Wow, I love those giant crates!

Douglas said...

hi! i'm barzilian, and i get to your text through twitter, from a biker profile. And i like so much, i starting at the biker life, i'm doing a lot of stuffs by bike, it's have been a new life for me.
and about the bikers at the center of the city, it's all true, they do all by bike, some banks are adhere the bikers boys to. but analizyng from a internal point of view, those small company just do it because they will have a lower cost with fuel and cars in comparison the bike. thats clear. sure. but who wins with this it's all the people that attends the center, and i smille so much when i see those companies that prefer some alternative way to explore the city.

enjoy the city. sorry the grammatical errors.

shuichi said...

I feel you are always flying all over the world. Anyway, I am remembering such working bikes which I posted some pictures, which are here, http://www.flickr.com/photos/62540479@N02/

A Japanese big delivery company, Sagawa also adopts a bike delivery system which might be in test use. Here is the link to my blog related. http://mamabicycle.blogspot.com/2011/02/eco-drivers-sagawa-express.html

Thank you.

Debt Consolidation Nation said...

So the front wheel rotates but the cargo rack stays straight?

João Lacerda said...

Here you go... McDees by bike in Brazil... Not a great shot, but serves as proof! ;)


sexify said...

Has anyone else noticed how similar these 'short john' bikes are to 1970s 'choppers' without the useful carrying rack?

Chopper enthusiasts:


Rodrigo Langeani said...

Great Post!
I am a brazilian biker and I can tell that those cargo bikes are more often used in smaller cities.

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safdar ali said...

These are looking so nice. The bikes trip with friends to a special place gives so enjoyment.

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