Sao Paulo Bicycle Schools - Escolas de Bicicleta
In July 2011, Copenhagenize was invited by the City of Sao Paulo to speak about Copenhagenize Consulting's Four Goals for Promoting Urban Cycling. On that visit we had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of Education for the city - Alexandre Schneider and his advisor Daniel Guth, who is the coordinator for the project. The Education Secretariat is responsible for the education of 1.2 million children in Sao Paulo. We pitched them the idea of placing bicycles in their schools as a way for the Education Secretariat to be the 'missing link' for childrens' relationship to the bicycle. Most of them still learn to ride but their options for continuing to do so are limited because of lack of safe infrastructure and the explosive and continuing growth of car culture.
We're moving full steam ahead towards planting the fertile seeds of bicycle culture in the hearts and minds of not only the children but the communities around the schools. The Education Secretariat is collaborating with the NGO Parada Vital, who have a team that will run the project. Copenhagenize Consulting, based on our original proposal, are senior consultants.
The project - Escolas de Bicicleta or 'Bicycle Schools' - is huge. It revolves around the 46 CEUs in the city. These CEUs - Centros de Educação Unificados - are extraordinary in their own right. Schools for 0-14 year olds but also comprehensive community centres for the surrounding neighbourhoods with amazing facilities for the children and everyone else. Swimming pools, theatres, sports facilities, computer facilties for the locals, you name it. They are the centre of cultural activity in the communities and draw people from all classes to gather under one umbrella, as it were. They are often impressive architecturally and rise up proudly at the heart of the communities in which they are placed.
Starting in 2002, each CEU has an Early Childhood Center, a Municipal School of Early Childhood Education and an Elementary School and hosts a couple of thousand children in all, in some cases more.
Now each CEU will recieve 100 bicycles - 4600 in all - and there will be two aspects to the Escolas de Bicicleta programme. One will be simply providing the students from 10-14 years with bicycles for use in bicycle games and activities. All aspects of bicycle culture will be taught in comprehensive courses lasting one month and covering history, culture, nutrition, etc.
The other aspect is that after the course, the children will start riding to school in 'bicycle busses' or 'convoys' each morning and back again in the afternoon. They will have pre-arranged meeting points and escorts to ride with them. In the long run, local youths will be empowered to act as escorts. The routes are carefully planned. None are more than 3 km and they avoid busy streets wherever possible. Every effort is being made to ensure the safety of the children cycling to school.
Copenhagenize Consulting is thrilled to be a part of this and to be working with such visionary people in Sao Paulo.