SAO PAULO – Dozens of cyclists rode their bicycles nude on Saturday in Sao Paulo, the biggest city in Brazil, to protest recklessness by motorized drivers and spread awareness about the hundreds of cyclists who are killed every year due to rash driving.
Naked, hands in the air, and facing the Paulista Avenue in the center of Sao Paulo, the bicycle enthusiasts demanded more respect and attention from the authorities.
“Drivers don’t respect cyclists. There have been many deaths of cyclists this year and that is why I came here today,” Jeruza Porto, a 45-year-old saleswoman, told EFE.
Wearing a red helmet and red paint on her body, Porto was a first-time participant in the gathering which was held for the 11th time this year.
“Vulgar is your lack of respect,” “Obscene Traffic,” “Out with the Cars” and “Your hurry costs a life” were some of the slogans painted on the bodies of the protesters.
Porto told about the death of a cyclist friend last year, who was run over by a bus.
Just the city of Sao Paulo saw the death of 37 cyclists in 2017, a jump of 23.3 percent compared to 2016, according to data provided by the Traffic Engineering Company, linked to the municipality and in-charge of the road traffic in the city.
Sao Paulo currently has 498.3 kilometers of permanent cycle-tracks and some 122.2 kilometers of paths which are opened on Sundays and public holidays.
“The Municipality is not even a little interested in saving the cyclists,” Neuma Fagundes de Souza, 58, said while participating in her third “Pedal Nude” protest, although the first time in the nude.
Neuma, who bicycles every day in a city with one of the heaviest traffic in the world, said it was necessary to take a drastic stand about traffic.
According to a 2017 report by international consultancy Inrix, Sao Paulo was the fourth busiest city in terms of traffic after Los Angeles, Moscow, and New York, among the 1,360 cities surveyed in 38 countries.
The death of cyclists in Sao Paulo is part of a national problem, as according to data of Brazil’s ministry of health, 1,189 Brazilian cyclists were killed in road accidents in 2016, after a total of 8,496 cyclists were killed during 2010-2015.
“We do not have any protection on the bicycle except the helmet, like being nude. Our body is our bumper,” said protestor Tiago Candalez.