Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bike Sampa- New Bike rental stations in Sao Paulo-Brazil

I just had a chat with JIM from Qualidade de Vida , on facebook this morning, and Jim was expressing how happy he is that he does not live in Sao Paulo, because we have so much traffic.
Jim was impressed with the new record of traffic in the city last night, a whopping 293Km.

Sao Paulo's record 293Km traffic jam seen from a Helicopter, Friday, June 1st

Just to give you a reference, when Gil and I left Sao Paulo in July of 1998, the record of traffic in the city was 220Km, and it happened in one of our epic floods.
I will never forget that afternoon, because I drove into a parking lot at Paulista Avenue and went into a movie theater at Center 3, right across from Conjunto Nacional, and I watched the English Patient., and I cried more than I had ever cried in any movie ever, until that point. Dam long movie and when I came out, voila, traffic was all gone. I love a good Sao Paulo traffic, the perfect excuse to go watch a movie by myself... ( Gilson hates going to the movies ) ...ok, I know, I know, you thinking, side tracking, side tracking alert, I hear you!!

Marginal Pinheiros, a place you don't ever want to be near rush hour! EVER!!!!
Ok, back to traffic in Sao Paulo, what I was telling Jim, is that we adapt, we people living in the big cities, adapt, my brother for example bought an apartment 2 blocks from his job. His wife got a job at the same company, they walk to work every day, only use their car on weekends when and if they get out of the city.

Praca Roosevelt, over 23 de Maio Avenue, near downtown!! Rush hour any day!

My sister Debora, yes, the same one from the ever so popular blog post My sister Deborah and the Peabody's Ducks , has a Dental Clinic walking distance from her home, she walks to work every day, and walk home for lunch.
My other sister, Daniela, is also a Dentist and she lives in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, where they don't have such a big deal with traffic, and she lives close to a train station, so she has the option of taking a train to her Dental Clinic as well.
My father also has an office, you guessed it, walking distance from his home. They rarely ever drive, unless they are going to the grocery store or leaving the city.
My point with all these examples is to show you that the locals adapt, and fast.
You move closer to work, walking distance is better, or you work close to your home, simple.
Gilson and I were just in Sao Paulo last month ( Post about our trip in the near future ), and we both noticed a HUGE improvement in public transportation, all over the city, new trains in the suburb, newer, better buses with A/C and even TV monitors in many of them. The subway is going further than ever imagined by us, new subway stations are popping up everywhere, they are beautiful, safe and modern, it really is refreshing to see all the progress.
Sao Paulo day by day becomes more pedestrian friendly, even considering the absurd amount of new cars popping up like mushrooms all over Sao Paulo ( and Brazil ), mind you, President Dilma just slashed taxes on new cars, IPI ( Imposto sobre Produtos Industrializados - Tax over Industrialized Products ), which is just gonna impulse many people into buying a new car, some are even 20% cheaper with the new tax cut.
Here is another, new way the locals are adapting to the chaotic traffic jams.
I just learned today about the new Bike Sampa system, these are new bike rental stations, already common in the Boston area and many other American and European cities, Rio also has the system already implemented.
Now it's Sao Paulo's turn, and the plans are ambitious, 300 Bike rental stations in 3 years, with 3000 bicycles available for rent.
6 new bike rental stations were just opened this week at Vila Mariana region, they are 1 kilometer a part from each other.

Follow these easy steps:

1- You have to become a member online, at, for free.
2- Make an online deposit of U$5,00 ( R$10.00), using a credit or debit card.
3- When you decide to rent you must call 4063-3111 and get a code to unlock your bicycle, if you have a smart phone you can download an application to get your "unlock code" automatically thru your cell phone.
4- The bikes can be used for 30 minutes free of charge, you must pay R$5,00 (U$2.50) for every additional 30 minutes.
5- Bikes will be available between 6am and 11pm, every day.

HERE is the original report from UOL in Portuguese.

New Sao Paulo "Bike Sampa" bike rental station-Vila Mariana-Sao Paulo

6 New bike rental stations in Sao Paulo:

Estações ativas do Bike Sampa:


Largo Senador Raul Cardoso, em frente à Cinemateca
Instituto BiológicoRua Morgado de Mateus junto à rua Rodrigues Alves, próximo ao Instituto Biológico
Capitão MacedoRua Capitão Macedo, próximo à rua Botucatu
Humberto IRua Humberto I, próximo à Rua Joaquim Távora
Rio GrandeRua Rio Grande junto à Rua Joaquim Távora
Faculdade Belas ArtesRua Álvaro Alvim, em frente à Faculdade de Belas Artes

I hope this information helps someone use the new system, and if you do, please give us your feedback!



Alex said...

I'm glad you saw an improvement in public transport!

And you're right, it's really important to live close to where you work, or at LEAST close to a public transportation option if you live in the city. It would make life easier, and cheaper!

I think the way that Brazilian cities are built (EXTREMELY DENSE) is wonderful for the health of the urban area economically as well as physically for people. Walkable cities, I would guess, end up being more economically powerful.

I like the bike idea too, thanks for sharing that. Every new option helps, especially when they are a healthy option!

Born Again Brazilian said...

Hey! I've seen these in Rio but I didn't know they had it in Sao paulo!! Nice!
Can you imagine what the traffic is going to be like as we get closer and closer to the World Cup? and the Olympics? Aye, aye, aye...

Ray and Gil said...


You are correct, Brazilian cities are built extremely dense.
Sao Paulo is pretty walkable, depending where you live and work...yes, I dream with walkable cities.
Hey, I think you may be riding these bikes next year ;)


Ray and Gil said...


Rio implemented them first, now it's Sao Paulo's turn, they just opened these new 4 bike stations in the past week. And plan to open up to 100 in the next few years. The cool thing is that this is private/public partnership! I am hoping it works, we need alternatives for public transportation in Sao Paulo, whatever they are, they are welcome.
By the way, Sao Paulo has some HUGE highway projects going on as we speak. I have faith in the city's capacity to adapt to change. It will take a combination of initiatives, both for more highways and more public transportation, including a lot more subway...and trains.
And I can almost guarantee you I will be there to witness the Olympics/World Cup mayhem in person!! ;)


Renato S. Alves said...

Hy Ray
I am glad that the city is doing something about the traffic. My last year in SP I was living with my father to save money and it was very far from my house. To go to work, I had to wake up every day at 5:15. Sometimes, even at 6am the traffic was so bad that I got tickets because of the "rodizio". Here in Orlando I never get any traffic because I don't use I-4. Well, every place has good and bad. In SP we have the traffic, here I have none but one thing I miss about my country is how easy it is to make friends among Brazilians. Even on the traffic we get out of the cars and talk. If I didn't have my partner here I wouldn't know what to do :)
I am also excited for my visit in October after almost 3 years!!

Ray and Gil said...


Good to hear from you. Glad to know you are with your partner, you and him are lucky to have each other. I feel the same way about Gil, I am so glad he is in my life.
I hear you, traffic in Sao Paulo really sucks, and I learned over the years to find other things to do instead of sitting in the car for hours. I either stayed late at work, or left early and worked from home the rest of the afternoon. I also went into movies, or restaurants or visited with friends. Anything to avoid siting in rush hour traffic.
Hey, talk about Orlando, I will take any Rush hour day in Sao Paulo over the HELL on earth that Florida weather is, too dam hot! I just can't deal with it. Plus, I can do without all the alligators and gigantic bugs that will carry you into the woods if you don't watch it! :)

Abraco Renato


Renato S. Alves said...

I can't wait to leave this state. We are only waiting for me to finish college in 13 months. It's too hot and I am always scared of the wild life hehehe. There are the gators, bugs, snakes, amebas, spiders etc...too much!
My teachers say all the time that up north people are more educated and things work better. I can't wait. Also I like cold, so here is not my favorite place.

Tiago said...

Also in Buenos Aires they now have a similar system for bike movilization. Last summer I was in an apartment rental in buenos aires and the traffic was a truly nightmare in some areas. They are beautiful cities but with this enormous problem, and this could be a part of a solution!