It’s funny how things work out. Maria and I had a meeting in Vila Olympia, an area in downtown São Paulo today. (I am not too sure if this is actually downtown, but it is in a commercial part anyway). We had half an hour to kill before lunch, and I remembered that I thought that there was a very cool bike shop nearby called Bike Forever which I had seen on Facebook. We looked it up and sure enough it was just around the corner. I remembered that it sold coffee too, so Maria agreed that we could take a look.
Bike Forever is located in a quiet cul-de-sac or maybe you would call it a mews, just off Rua do Rocio. When we arrived we met Leandro, who soon fixed us up with a coffee and carrot cake which I love : ) Leandro explained that there are in fact four businesses there which make up their project. There is Bike Forever which is a fashion and accessory business, the bike business Ciclo Urbano selling bikes and which also does mechanical repairs, a bike courier business called Giro Courier, and their cafe which sells their own coffee, Manti, which is personally sourced from a small plantation in Serra da Mantiqueira.
As we approached lunchtime Leandro had to attend to a number of customers, but he brought over Martin from the other building to say hello and to explain to us more about their vision. I have to say, Bike Forever do some seriously cool clothes, but at this time their main shop is undergoing a refurbishment, and so being closed we stayed chatting in the bike shop.
As you can imagine, we had a huge amount to chat about, the bike scene in São Paulo, attitudes towards bikers, how to make it more fashionable and safer, how to develop more urban infrastructure etc. Of course Brazil is behind developed countries in terms of supporting cyclists in cities, but I have said this a few times before, I am not one to criticise, I only want to help develop cycling as an integrated solution to the problems faced over here. There are in fact one heck of a lot of groups now here who are all working with same objective which is to develop cycling here, and I am sure I will be writing about many more initiatives as and when I meet them.
Being situated where it is in a closed-off courtyard away from traffic I can see the guys at Bike Forever developing a very cool social hub to meet up, have a cuppa and really develop the scene here.
Part of what we chatted about was how to help integrate Brazil into the international bike scene. There isn’t too much information out there in English or Spanish even about all the cool stuff happening over here, so maybe over the coming months you’ll see something come out of collaboration. Who knows? For now I just thought that this would make a great little article about few bike dudes trying to make a big difference to the lives of everyone here in São Paulo.
I’ll leave you with this video below. It’s a promo from the Ladies Bike Polo league which is beginning to really take off in São Paulo and I think in Rio de Janeiro too. Martin was talking about developing the image of cycling here, and I said to Aline who is a part of this scene that it’s this kind of thing which is definitely leading the way in terms of changing attitudes and the behaviour if not of everyone, then of the teens and young people here in Brazil who are going to have to clean up the current older generations’ mess, and it’s they who are the ones who can see just how important bikes are not just for leisure, not just as a means of transport, but as a way of life.