12 Feb

Taxi-bike: a sustainable transportation alternative in the city of Afuá

The city of Afuá, located in the State of Pará, has its soil permanently swamped by the Afuá River; its streets are suspended, consisting of wood bridges and some concrete bridges. Therefore it is named as “The Marajoara Venice”. As a consequence, the use of motor vehicles and even motorcycles is forbidden by a municipal law. According to the city’s population, that type of transportation damages the bridges.

On the left, the place where workers of the other side of the river keep their bikes; also, an image of an adaptation in a point of the city where bicycles are kept.

This situation has seemingly limited the locomotion of the city’s population and led people to create a new alternative that would not only meet their needs and favor faster movement through the bridges, but would also become a sustainable alternative because it does not disperse chemical substances that are harmful to the environment. Therefore, bikes and tricycles are the city’s most used transportation facilities.

More sophisticated transportation facilities, called taxi-bikes, exist in the city. They are a local invention based on the connection of two bikes through a steel structure where other elements are added such as seats, cover, buffer, panels, wheels, bumpers, lights, gear boxes, hand-brakes and even rearview mirrors and license plates. In some models, creative citizens add sound and DVD systems that work using an automotive battery.

Photo: 01: Steering wheel; 02: Trunk and rear bumper of a taxi-bike; 03: Automotive battery and front bumper ; 04: Speaker in the upper part of a taxi-bike. Source: The Green Club.
Photo: 01: Steering wheel; 02: Trunk and rear bumper of a taxi-bike; 03: Automotive battery and front bumper ; 04: Speaker in the upper part of a taxi-bike.

The first taxi-bike was created 11 years ago by Raimundo do Socorro Souza Gonçalves, known as Sarito, who pursued a solution to ride his bicycle with his family. He created a vehicle with three wooden wheels with capacity for four people. With the name registered in a notary office, the invention called taxi-bike raised the interest of many people in Afuá.

Since then, taxi-bikes are one of the main transportation facilities in the city. Home garages were adapted to accommodate the multi-purpose vehicle. In addition to being a passenger vehicle, it serves as a source of income (freight transportation for people and transportation of small cargoes, marketing products, advertising and publicity), ambulance, butchers, among other things.

Photos: 05: A taxi-bike used for advertising and publicity; 06: A taxi-bike used for freight; 07: Adaptation in a garage to keep the taxi-bike.

According to municipal government data, more than 300 taxi-bike models circulate on the bridges of Afuá. Also there is an interest on the part of tourists or even people from other states in acquiring a taxi-bike. The city has three machine shops specializing in making taxi-bikes; the cost of a model ranges from R$ 1,200 (about US$ 700.00) to R$ 6,000 (about US$ 3,500.00). Sizes ranges from 80 centimeters to 1.20 meter wide and 2 meters long.

Photos: Images of taxi-bike models in Afuá.
Images of taxi-bike models in Afuá.

Necessity turned taxi-bikes into a local passion, where bolder owners are inspired in eccentric models and make references to their idols and tastes, such as automotive models, TV, magazines, and sports. They customize their so-called thin ones with varied stylized seats, paints, objects and accessories, electronic systems, lighting. Other more creative owners reinvent models known as a Ferrari; jeeps and even a bat-mobile taxi-bike inspired in comics are seen on the bridges of Afuá. There is an event coined as Biciata (Bicycle Parade), where bikes, tricycles and taxi-bikes carefully ornamented compete for prizes where the main criteria are regionality, creativity and originality.

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