For all the benefits bike lanes bring to cities and cyclists, they're really not too complex. In short, they should be delineated from vehicle lanes, wide enough to accommodate bike traffic, and free of dangerous obstacles -- like, oh, say a wall.
Nevertheless, late last week cyclists in São Paulo, Brazil encountered a new feature to their dedicated bike lane -- an unavoidable cinder block barrier. According to Alexandre Sato, who takes the path to and from work each day, the obstruction appeared overnight without any apparent purpose, forcing riders to dangerously enter the adjacent bus lane to get around it.
When questioned by Brazilian media, São Paulo Metro, the agency responsible for maintaining the bike lane, claimed that the wall was built intentionally as part of normal renovations to the existing barrier running parallel to the pathway. That, of course, makes no sense -- so after added public pressure and grumblings over the agency's incompetence, São Paulo Metro released a statement that the wall would be removed.
No apologies for putting cyclists in danger was issued, however, nor was the wall admitted to be a mistake.
While the fact that a wall was ever built in the bike lane is so nonsensical that it borders on comedic, for many Brazilians, it's consistent with the poorly planned transportation infrastructure that plagues most big cities there. Recent protests in the country have highlighted these and other issues with some success -- though for every wall that's torn down, others tend to arise where you'd least expect it.