People often say that when you return home after you’ve been away for a long time, you are surprised by how little has changed. When I returned to London for a short break earlier in the year (having been away for 2 years) I found this to be largely true. However, one thing that did pique my curiosity were these black and blue bikes that were everywhere. Since I had been away, London’s self-styled ‘Buffoon Mayor‘, Boris Johnson, had introduced a bike sharing scheme and these bikes had become known as Boris Bikes.
Well I recently discovered that Rio now has it’s own Boris Bikes!
It looks like a really decent system to me. There was an attempt to do something like this back in 2008 but I’m told it failed after many of the bikes were stolen or damaged. Apparently the scheme was withdrawn with a statement with words to the effect that Rio wasn’t ready for a scheme like this! Nothing to do with poor planning and execution of course.
Well, it looks like they’ve learned from the mistakes of the past because this current scheme is going from strength to strength. New docking stations are opening all the time and these bright orange bikes are now a common sight around Zona Sul.
So, how does it work? First you have to register on their website (click here!). It is open to anyone (locals or tourists) with a credit card (Master Card, Visa, Diners Club) and a cell phone. A daily pass will cost you R$5 (approx $2.5 USD; £1.60), or you can buy a monthly pass for R$10. The monthly pass allows you to take sub-1 hour rides for free! Rides over 60 minutes will be charged at R$5 per additional hour. Once you’ve registered and bought your pass, you go to one of the docking stations, call a number and enter the details of your location and away you go! I should mention that there is a R$300 deposit, but take care of your bike and that shouldn’t be an issue.
One thing that may have occurred to my more devious-minded readers is that you could buy the monthly pass and take your bike for 59 minutes, dock into a station and then just grab another bike and restart the clock for another 59 minutes, cheating the system. Well I’m afraid they’ve thought of that. You have to wait 15 minutes between your sub-hour rides, otherwise it will count as the same trip (though personally, if I rode a bike for 59 minutes, I would insist on a 15 minute break anyway!).
I think this is such a good idea – along with the outdoor municipal gyms, it is another way to improve the general health and fitness of the people of Rio. It should also ease congestion and be a great way for tourists to cheaply bike around Rio. And with plans to double the existing network of cycle lanes, I’m feeling confident this scheme could be here to stay. I have to confess, I haven’t actually tried these bikes yet (though I plan to do so shortly). Has anyone else had a go? What did you think?