26 thoughts on “Mental Health Break: Yo bici CCS

  1. Very fckn cool.

    I honestly never thought I would be looking at a video of anything other than el Avila and thinking “man… Caracas is beautiful.”

  2. A few years ago a friend of mine dared to ride his bike in Caracas from his home in downtown Caracas to Universidad Central. His adventures on two wheels did not last long. A couple of thugs ambushed him in Avenida Bolivar on a weekday at midday. They hit him with a bat and ran away with the bike, leaving him with a contusion on the street…

    • I call bullshit on this story – I know tons of kids from Cicloguerrilla Urbana who cycle daily without a problem. Choros aren’t looking for bikes – where do you even fence one?!

      Plus, motorizados tend to “adopt” cyclists as sort of cub members of the clan.

      I’m not saying it’s 100% impossible to get mugged on your first outing, but on the evidence of dozens of people I find it exceedingly unlikely.

      • Feel free to believe whatever you want, but it happened just as I’m telling you, about a decade ago. I pressume that most of the feel good bike stories you listen are not from westside Caracas but from more civic places like Chacao.

        And do you actually believe that thieves are that picky? It’s true that the black market of stolen motorcycle parts and drug dealing are more profitable, but they are high risk high reward jobs. On the other hand stealing anything – ANYTHING – that is not nailed to the floor is a good starting point for any aspiring thief. Recently I heard a story about house thieves that stole the toys from some kids in front of them because, you know, the kids of thieves also deserve a nice christmas.

        And truth be told, those are not the scariest stories I can tell you about Caracas. Ya empiezas a sonar como los chamitos del este del este de Caracas: totally clueless about what permeates down there in downtown Caracas. Next time, skip Parapara and go straight to Antimano o Catia, pero eso si, en camionetica ;-)

      • Some years ago, in the park behind Manzanares, some thugs killed a guy to steal his mountain bike.
        They got caught in Baruta, bragging about the fancy bike they got.

    • nor do that anyone in the Netherlands… (highest cycling rate worldwide). Reading CCS-Chronicles I would think a bullet-proof vest would be a better protection, maybe not all the risks are worth the protection…
      I wear a helmet -in Germany-, but for visibility purposes in first place. Here are always very heated discussions about the protection effects, I think it could sometimes help, but that is far away from crystal clear.

      • I don’t to shift the discussion towards helmet vs no helmet, but my guess is that if they work 5% of the times then you are better off wearing them than not. I designed a bike helmet once and they actually do a lot better than that both to prevent cracking of your head and to prevent neck injuries.

        Some hard data shows that in 2007 92% of the bike fatalities in the US, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet.

        http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality.aspx?topicName=bicycles&year=2007

        The US mortality rate by bike accidents is 2.3 per million. I don’t/ couldn’t quickly find bike usage rate or bike helmet wear rate in the US. But it is mandatory to wear in many states.

        The Netherlands (not because the country in itself has any meaning but because you brought it up) has about 18 death per million on bike accidents. 9X more than the US.

        http://www.tobysterling.net/2008/04/bike-injuries-and-deaths-in-netherlands.html

        Of course there is a lot more to it than to wear a helmet such as driving/riding under the influence, road infrastructure, driving culture, usage rates, etc.

        • I’m not a helmet opposer, but you must be carefully about over stating the protection effect. Some points to consider:
          -Deadly injuries/Deadly head injuries alone (it doesn’t matter if your head is ok, but a car has crushed your thorax)
          -With increasing speed the energy goes at the square function, a helmet may reduce middle injuries, but would do little at high speed /energy injuries
          -Negative image on riding, leading to less riding (itself healthier as no riding)

          The death rate (cycling) in the Netherlands is higher because “The bicycle is used for almost a quarter of all journeys” In the United States it should be less than 1%.
          You say “my guess is that if they work 5% of the times then you are better off wearing them than not”, then you should be wearing a bullet-proof vest first, or not?

          • Indeed one draws the line somewhere. I draw it at wearing safety belt when driving, a helmet while riding and a rope when climbing. Why? Because the cost of doing so is low and it decreases my chances of my brain spilling out of my skull.

            But c’mong, not one helmet in the video? I am not arguing for the full safety gear (knee, elbow pads). But helmet is a pretty standard thing that will prevent “low speed deaths” and it is worn by professionals everywhere even though it adds more weight.

            My post is not proposing a mandatory helmet ordnance. But helmets are a good thing for Christ’s sake!

      • Your comparison seems unfair, as cyclists in the Netherlands have special lanes and stoplights that add a bit of order and safety to their commutes, while those in Caracas have to share the road with aggressive drivers… I also don’t remember seeing many bulletproof cars and electric fences around homes in the Netherlands, for example ;)

  3. Thanks for sharing! When I started using the bicycle in Caracas my life changed for better… I’m so glad I stopped fearing, giving away my time and health to all the chaos. I’m happy to see that there are more and more cyclists in my city, and I hope we keep growing. You live the life you choose to live, and I chose the one I deserve. I love my bicycle, I love Caracas.

  4. I rode my bike almost daily from the east side to the UCV for two and a half years. In my best days and in an rush it would take me about 18 mins from door to door (almost twice on my way back!). Fortunately I had where to safely store it and shower (that is not the case for practically anyone else). Interestingly I was constantly seen as a weirdo just because of riding a bike and this was 12 years ago…. gradually, as I started working while in school I just stopped using it because I would seldom head home straight from school. I did ride it a couple of times after, just to avoid caos and get on time to an exam. I could literally wake up and go, within 30 mins I would be at school showered and all… try that in rush hour. I would probably do it again in CCS if only the distance would be shorter for my daily commute. However, blending in with the “motorizados” has been an incredible experience in my past travels to the city and would most likely go that route for regular transportation… in any case, I’d just forget about a car in CCS except to go out at night.

  5. I was thrilled to see this! It made me happy. I have occasionally thought about the idea of cycling in Caracas, because it is such a built-in component of my life and because Caracas is my hometown, but always in the negative – in terms such as, “how could anyone make a habit of cycling there?”

    Regarding A. Barrero’s relato, it is not hard to provide such examples – the high school age son of some family friends, who live in San Roman, was once attacked by thugs who tried to steal his bicycle out from under him as he was riding (presumably in the southeast), but, as they say, data is not the plural of anecdote. In Chicago, where I live, one hears about occasional incidents of being attacked by gangbanger types but these do not define cycling in a city that is quite a good one for cycling.

    Also, why do Helmet Wars have to surface here, of all places??

    Gabriela, do you have any other links (photos, blog, etc.) regarding cycling in Caracas?

  6. What struck me in the video was that nobody bothered to wear a helmet.

    Funny, in Montreal, where there is snow 6 months of the year, the City has taken 1/3 of the space of major streets to build protective bike paths that are rarely used in the winter. There is also a very successful start-up called Bixi, heavily subsidized by the City, to rent a bike as you go. Caracas, that has the best weather on Earth, doesn’t even considers serious bike-paths and bike parking….

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