Yellow bikes are taking off across Brazil

(FRA)– The yellow jersey, as seen on the front of a car taken from Althier Algarve (Portugal) – Catherine Howell, “Yellow Bike”, spends most of her day watching for yellow bikes.

There’s an accident in a lane on Rio de Janeiro’s Garin ​​Rio de Janeiro highway. The cyclist is knocked down and ends up hurt on the side of the road. His bike is right next to him. When you arrive at the scene, the cyclist hops back on his bike and the two cyclists leaving the scene. The accident is captured on the dashboard camera of a car taken from Althier Algarve (Portugal) – Catherine Howell, “Yellow Bike”, spends most of her day watching for yellow bikes.

Howell is one of the workers employed by”Samma Vida”, an initiative started by the state government of Rio de Janeiro’s traffic police department. Her desk is filled with yellow training equipment to be used by teams and teams of volunteers in the agency’s cycling and jogger division. There is also a yellow bicycle that she rides around the city’s traffic-clogged streets to analyze accident situations and report them to a minister who determines whether cyclists should be fined for breaking traffic rules.

The initiative is the brainchild of Rio de Janeiro’s traffic police boss Rio Aveira. Aveira says the idea came from research done at the National Institute of Statistics and Census of Brazil (INEC) two years ago in which statistics revealed a high percentage of people riding bicycles on the roads in Rio de Janeiro. Since 2012, “Samma Vida” has set up stations where bikes are cleaned and oiled, as well as sanitation machines that crumple bikes. Volunteers also circulate around the city’s busy roads handing out public service notices and official transportation cards that alert the cyclists to the boundaries of the zone. The yellow approach was born.

Recently, when there was a big accident on the Garin de Olímpia (Rio de Janeiro) highway that caught Howell’s attention. Many other cars passed without stopping and that bothered Howell. “I wanted to intervene,” she says. “I wanted to prevent another accident. I wanted to get there on the scene and see what had happened.” She began taking pictures of cars that had run over the cyclist and sent them to her supervisor and to Caixa Econômica Federal, the local bank. One day, when she was on the road patrolling, she saw a vehicle that also hadn’t stopped after hitting the cyclist. She stopped it, called the police and got the two drivers involved. There is still an open case against the driver, who has had his license suspended for 30 days, says Howell.

Every Friday, Howell rides her yellow bicycle along the Garin de Olímpia highway between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. During the evening, she has her own seat in her patrol car and often takes “The Coffin” – a bakkie with a police officer sitting on top of it. She has even noticed that many drivers give her more space when she’s pedaling. “Mostly I feel like a chaperone,” she says. The police support her initiative.

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