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The Bike

May 7, 2012

        The bicycle is a good mode of transport in Rio de Janeiro but not for the faint heart. The roads are fast and busy. Buses and taxis don’t seem to have a concept of traffic lanes, right or left and signalling. They do know however where the horn is! The bike in question and like many I have seen in Rio, is about 30 years old. It is a rusty rickety old thing with no gears or comfort. In the UK it would have been thrown away years ago; these old bone shakers are bought and sold for around thirty or forty pounds. I cycled to the local shopping mall to get internet connection. It is only by luck and an assortment of prayers I draw upon in such situations that I got there in one piece. I have ridden my daughter’s bike since being here but I will not repeat the experience again in a hurry; even though I am a competent cyclist. Sadly, my reluctance is not to do with my capacity as a biker. It is unseemly for a lady to cycle and also it is unsafe. In Rio like any big cities there is a growing number of thieves who will risk a prison sentence, not to feed a drug habit but to feed a family. The minimum wage in Rio is two hundred GB pounds a week and it costs around one thousand a month to provide for a small family it not surprising for most people in Rio their out goings exceed in the income. So the opportunity to make an easy few pounds from a ‘rich’ tourist, who might not miss it, is often grabbed. My few belongings pulled from my shoulder when sold will bring a few riais to buy rice to feed a child for a while. It is a real shame that I cannot ride a bike or walk in certain parts of the town alone without being at risk. It does make things simple- travelling without expensive accessories. It also removes the potential victim’s freedom – as we become prisoners of the thief.

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