While there are very few cyclists in Lisbon when compared to people driving cars, a community is rising that believes cycling could and should become a normal form of transport in this city, much like in some other cities in Europe.
Among the cycling community, there is a strong spirit of mutual help and a sense of being at the forefront of important social change. Cyclists self organize to support and promote cycling: cooperative bicycle repair workshops take place regularly; bicycle awareness demonstrations are organized. The increasing number of cyclists is seen as a market opportunity by some: bicycle repair and rental shops are inaugurated; bicycle repair courses are taught; bicycle-themed cafes are opened.
While the impact of cycling in everyday society is still small, cyclists aspire to share the public space on equal terms with pedestrians and motor vehicles. The future of cycling in Lisbon is being negotiated not only in city hall meetings, but everyday on the streets.
(all images are from early 2013)
In recent years a few dedicated bicycle lanes have been created in the city. Opinions diverge on whether cyclist should share the road with motor vehicles.
Cicloficina, a cooperative bicycle repair shop.
Volunteers working at cicloficina.
Cyclists seeking assistance at Cicloficina are expected to help and learn from the mechanics.
A pro bicycle safety demonstration aimed at increasing driver awareness.
Pro bicycle safety demonstration. ‘Devagar’ is portuguese for ‘slowly’.
Pro bicycle safety demonstration. Traffic in downtown Lisbon was restricted to bicycles during the demonstration.
Bicycle mechanics class. Bruno, the teacher, co-owns a family business that is focused on cycling and aims to have positive social impact.
Bicycle mechanics class (detail).
Everyday Diogo goes to school on what his father calls the ‘school bus’. Carrying children on bicycles is still eccentric behaviour in Portugal.
Participants in an alleycat race gather to hear rules and advice before the race begins. This kind of race developed in North America at the end of the 20th century and spread across the world.
A list of checkpoints spread out across the city is given to the participants.
Like most cyclists living in Lisbon, Isis and her family store their bicycles inside their apartment homes.
Critical mass is an international event that takes place on the last friday of each month. In Lisbon, up to hundreds of cyclists gather at the Marquês the Pombal square in the city centre and then ride across the city.
© 2013 João Abril de Abreu