Bike advocates are fined for painting the first (and only) bikelane in Curitiba

Curitiba has received many titles:

  • Ecological City (Capital Ecológica)
  • Social City (Capital Social)
  • City for the People (Capital da Gente)

Let’s see,  “Ecological City”!? Hmm… but all its rivers are polluted (see the article: Iguaçu, the second most polluted river in Brazil – in portuguese)

Maybe “Social City”, but there is an evergrowing number of favelas.

Nah, I think we should stick to “City for the people”. But in the last few decades, the municipalities are putting real money in new paved roads and underpasses for the cars  and recently the city fined a group of citizens for doing something good (by the way, something that should have been done a long time ago) Yeah, maybe we should look for another slogan for Curitiba…

Let’s start from the beggining, during the activities of the World Carfree Day, back to september 22th, 2007.

Tired of the insecurity and the lack of space for those who didn’t own a car and taking into account the indifference from the municipalities, a group of activists, supported by local residents at Alto da Glória neighborhood, decide to paint a cyclelane in one block.

Before the act, the media and the authorities were informed through an open letter that was signed by many residents and businessmen in the area.

So, at the end of a public, pacific and leaderless bike ride that occurs monthly in our city, the  “First Cyclelane of Curitiba” was painted by a group of approximately 50 people during daylight.

At the end of this peaceful protest, with full support of  many local residents of  Augusto Stresser Street, a one-meter-wide cyclelane was painted on the right side of the street.

The painting was made with a proper paint for asphalt, trying not only to inform about bike traffic and increase the safety for street users. But also to demonstrate to our leaders that it is possible in a a cheap, simple and – above all – legalized way to stimulate bike traffic in a safe way throughout the whole city. A few days later, the bikelane was “erased” by the municipalities (see this picture published in a local newspaper article) showing what is the real policy in Curitiba. They cannot create bikelanes but they can destroy. A few weeks later, the first Commuter’s Challenge was held in this same street and the bikelane was painted for the second time, once again with support of local residents and media coverage. This time it wasn’t erased but…

After finishing the (first) painting, municipal officers showed up and in a very aggressive and arbitrary way took three participants to the police department to be charged with “environmental crime“. The officers’ conduct was very peculiar. During their approach they took off their identification as shown in the picture above. Recently the three “chosen ones” received a notification of R$750,00  each (approximately U$350).

Obviously there must be a misunderstaning that we expect to be solved as soon as possible. By painting a bikelane, the citizens weren’t damaging public space but revitalizing it. Which is quite different from the attitude of our current mayor Beto Richa that was accused of illegal advertisement with public money and was sentenced to return R$600 thousand inappropriately taken from the city.

It would be good also to clarify when all the promises made by the same politicians about sustainable mobility will take place in our city that still has the same infrastructure for bikes that was made decades ago and in the last few years only gained new paved roads for cars and underpasses.