Published on October 27th, 2011 | by Cynthia Shahan


Cargo Bikes, Rio Style

October 27th, 2011 by

Brazilian Bike Culture

The Copacabana neighborhood in the city of Rio de Janeiro is enjoying an upswing economically, as is the whole of Brazil.  The changes are progressively upbeat, integrating a greener travel style. Copacabana’s air is a bit fresher and the sounds of traffic are more naturalistic and harmonious due to the widespread use of cargo bikes for business. As urban landscapes shift in Brazil, in Rio and Sao Paolo, they are more tuned to the quiet swish swish of bicycles. Rio is catching up with Copenhagen and inspiring more cities to turn car pollution, air pollution, and noise pollution down a notch.

Transporte Ativo

The active transportation NGO Transporte Ativo did a bike and cargo delivery count in exacting detail recently. There are 11,541 deliveries made by bicycle or cargo trike every day in the Copacabana neighborhood. Check out the charts below for more detail:

Bike Culture Around the Globe

City by city, our planet becomes more physically strong, counting our transportation as one important factor in the cultivation of our health. 40,000 cargo bikes are in use in greater Copenhagen each day. The Danes are now world leaders, teachers in the effective transformation and integration of bike-friendly transit systems.  Europe has been more progressive than the US in mass transits systems and bike path implementation, in general.

The changes the Danes successfully made, utilizing bikes more in daily life, work, etc., brought more health and happiness to the city as a side effect of unplugging from cars. Integration of cycling to work gives one a naturally-formed fitness, and immersion in life. Danes ride bikes for personal transportation and also for the many businesses — transport through cargo bikes is popular. South American countries are catching the wave now. Cargo transport is incorporated into the culture so deeply that it is part of the mainstream in the Danish capital. Copenhagen is our teacher; Rio springs up in good form, as did Sao Paulo, Brazil. The real heroes are the working class cargo drivers whose prowess develops our respect as they are pumping the pedals with heaving loads on board.


One night from 10 pm till 2 am, I sat on a step outside my hotel along Canal Street in Amsterdam. Swish swish, the bikes came and went, so quietly and musically. Grandma and Grandpa gliding along with their grandchildren in a side bike as they rode home from the store or restaurant. Individuals, sometimes couples side by side, and a cargo bike or trike breezed by. It was a quiet cultural movement of life apart from traffic with not a car in sight. As I chatted with the desk clerk about my experience as an American, enjoying this peace beyond cars, he pointed out: “Time, we have time in this part of the world.” I couldn’t argue his observation nor would I want to. Perhaps there is some link between the immersion of travel, life, and bikes that lend more contemplation to ones experience of time.



Thank you to for the graphs and images.

Photo Credit: pedaispelomundo

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About the Author

is an Organic Farmer, Classical Homeopath, Art Teacher, Creative Writer, Anthropology Studies, Natural Medicine Activist, Journalist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

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