Though Rio is one of Latin America’s largest cities, with some 6.3 million people in the city proper, and (in)famous for its security problems, it also happens to be outstandingly bicycle friendly. The Cidade Maravilhosa now has more than 160km (99mi) of paved bicycle paths, second in Latin America and set to double this year.
Since 2008, Rio has also been able to boast one of the world’s premier bicycle sharing programs, cleverly called SAMBA (Alternative Mobility Solution Through Bike Renting). Modeled on bike-sharing programs in Amsterdam, Paris and elsewhere around the world, SAMBA offers about 600 bicycles distributed around some 35 stations (with more in the works) in neighborhoods including Urca, Gavia, Leblon, Ipanema and many more. You can even take them to the airport.
The “laranjinhas,” or orange bikes, can be rented from any of the solar-powered stations for R$5 (US$2.66) per day, R$10 (US$5.32) per month. You must register on their website, download the free app, and make a R$300 (US$159) deposit your credit card. While the system has long had trouble accepting foreign credit cards, SAMBA authorities suggest that this has been remedied; please keep us up to date in the comments section.
In the meantime, many hostels and hotels offer guests temporary SAMBA accounts (ask before you book if this is important to you), and there are plenty of other options for traditional bike rentals. While SAMBA website includes information about their stations, serious cyclists could also consider downloading the Rio de Bicicleta smartphone app, with maps and information on where to rent, lock up, or even fix your ride.
The most popular bicycle paths run along the beaches, from Marina da Gloria to Recreio dos Bandeirantes. Some 6km (4mi) of paths wend through wonderful Tijuca National Park. While it’s a wonderful way to see the city, you might get even more out of it by booking a bicycle tour of Rio; there are several to choose from.
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