Belo Horizonte, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, is a city built on hills. Wherever we go, it’s uphill or downhill. Designed for a population of 100,000, the city—Brazil’s sixth largest—has grown to more than 2.5 million inhabitants, with many developments expanding into the surrounding hillsides.
Despite the challenging terrain, Belo Horizonte (or as locals call it, BH) has in recent years become one of Brazil’s bike-friendliest cities. In 2014, BH launched a bike-share program that has logged over 350,000 rides. The city, which has launched public-safety campaigns encouraging motorists to share the road with cyclists, has created 50 miles of bike lanes since 2014, with plans for 200 more by 2020.
The city’s bike culture has evolved along with a growing arts scene, replete with street art, poetry slams, and hip-hop competitions. During Carnival, costume-clad cyclists fill the streets for Bloco da Bicicletinha, a beloved block party. Many organizations, like Amigas do Pedal and Zoobikers, lead group rides through the city. Organizers say the rides, which sometimes take place in the evening, encourage new ridership and promote bike safety.