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Riding a Bicycle in Barquisimeto: Learn about the BiciRed Venezuela Initiative

The bicycle, for some people, is considered a sport of great impact. For others, it is linked to the feeling of freedom, and for the young people of BiciRed Venezuela is a magical combination of both. At Yo Amo Bqto, we will tell you all about the urban cycling.

This initiative is born of the need of these guys to be able to move through Barquisimeto and Venezuela with alternative means of transportation. Jesús Montoya, Jessica Fonseca, and Nathalie Bello tell us about the creation of this network of urban travelers.

Montoya says that “public spaces belong to all citizens. Usually, greater importance is given to the car use. We, at BiciRed, want to meet to teach communities that cycling is an ecological, economic and healthy transportation alternative.”

He also considers that, from the historical point of view, the bicycle has been the ideal companion for jobs such as messenger, merchant, coffee providers, cobbler, among others; and that its use is the legacy of an era that deserves to be rescued.

Their objectives are: to be seen, organize themselves in groups of urban cyclists to attract the attention of the community and to send its message of acceptance, to accept the bicycle as a means of transportation that deserves the road consideration. Being an urban cyclist is a decision that many people have taken, and this action deserves the respect of all.

For her part, Jessica Fonseca intervenes from a rational perspective. “In a Barquisimetan traffic context, we must be strategists when it comes to driving a bicycle; you can’t be naive. Although on some occasions the trip is recreational, there are rules that you must follow as a cyclist, but also the car user must assume some preventive attitude about these transportation alternatives.”

We must prevent accidents

Regarding the above, there have been many accidents that have taken place in the cities, due to the unintentional encounters between cyclists and cars, in which members of the BiciRed have been injured.

While telling anecdotes, Nathalie Bello adds that “apart from being a support network, we function as researchers. We have a database where you can count the accidents that took place and take preventive actions for the pedestrian, the car, and the cyclist. Having these recorded incidents allows us to continue creating content for research on the bike.” If you want to know about this data, you can visit their Fan Page on Facebook as Bicired Venezuela.

Replicating worldwide experiences

Thanks to the researchers and observation of worldwide experiences in urban cycling in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina, the Venezuelans faced their first working tables in in the context of the first Encounter of Urban Cycling.

Since 2016, meetings have been held to build the philosophy as a non-profit organization. Its methodology is based on citizen participation and the inclusion of the ideas of all the organization members. “We want to show that everyone is heard when the mission, vision, and objectives of the BiciRed are accomplished,” says Montoya.

Among the activities that are being carried out by bike lovers, there is the historical tour, created in association with Barquisimeto 2.0 (@ bqto2.0), where a ride throughout the historical center of the city and stops to give lectures on architectural heritage were planned.

Fonseca tells us: “In the context of the BiciRed work tables, we had the opportunity to do this tour through emblematic places of the city. We ended up on the terrace of the Torre David (David Tower), and the people were delighted, everything was beautiful.”

Bicy-picnics

As part of the activities, the so-called Bicy-picnics are also held. They are recreational meetings of this community in spaces that they qualify as “residuals,” since these places have experienced ornamental artistic intervention, like the areas surrounding the corporeal letters of the city or the great monuments that throughout of time just have had a contemplative character.

These irreverent guys go there to share experiences, stories, and even card games and dominoes. All with the idea of attracting the attention of people and welcome them to the universe of the positive possibilities offered by the bike riding.

“The first picnic we did, after a considerable pause, was last Sunday in Parque Ayacucho, a spectacular place. Later in the Paseo Iribarren, where we had a lot of interaction with people in cars; and then in the Ribereña and the Plaza de la Hermandad Ítalo Venezolana,” says Nathalie.

When people see the young people of the bicycle community, they show their support. “People get excited when they see us. ‘What you are doing is awesome, keep it up,’ they tell us, and that’s exciting,” Fonseca reveals.

If you want to be a part of this recreation wave with the bike, next Sunday, September 24, BiciRed will hold its next picnic. “We are very excited about this Sunday’s picnic. The location where we are doing the meeting is a spectacular place that is only visible by car. It’s located at the Jirahara Interchange, where you can find the corporeal letters of Lara,” says Bello.

But pedestrians are also invited. Jessica explains that there will be a group of BiciRed on foot that will accompany the people who want to attend to ensure their safety at the interchange. They assure that the experience will be unforgettable.

In addition, Jesús Montoya says: “It’s important that you keep an eye on the Fan Page Bicipicnic Barquisimeto Cabudare, where we will explain all the details of this picnic. We will give you instructions to get there safely. We will take this place to make it the first bicycle park without fences, and you are all invited.”

What does the bicycle mean to you?

We wanted our interviewees to reflect on this question. Sighing, they answered:

Nathalie: “I learned to ride a bike at 21. I used it first to go to work and the university. After a lot of walking, knowing the traffic and preparing myself I use the bike completely; I even bought one for my mother and my little sister. It has been great for me as a citizen, and as a woman, because I reaffirm myself, I’m empowered and proud of how good and agile I am when I drive.”

Jessica: “Once Nathalie had to rest because of her hand, she gave it (the bicycle) to me. First I had to learn how to drive it because I did not know. I did it in the Plaza Bolívar (Bolivar Square) at the age of 22, in an orange dress and a borrowed bike. What I like most is the freedom you feel when you enjoy the sunsets without that frame that gives you the car window. I feel fulfilled on my bike.”

Jesus: “I used to have a car, and I sold it to go to Argentina. Unlike Venezuela, in that country, the student symbol is a bicycle, and since I wanted to have autonomy, I bought one, and I immediately made a connection that remains. All the jobs I had, the activities I did, I accomplished it thanks to the bike. When I returned, the love (for the bike) continued. That feeling of independence and freedom the bike gives you can’t be explained.”

 

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