Monday, August 24, 2009


In Ipatinga (and I think in many areas of Brazil) motorcycles (or motos) are an extremely important mode of transportation. Not only do a large majority of people use them, but they are used largely for taxis as well. They are fast and cheap (not to mention dangerous). Also a lot of people purchase motorcycles because compared to cars, they are more affordable with a month to month payment. But with all these things come reservations....All I can see as they fly by me are death machines.

The motos here scare the heck out of me. They weave in and out of traffic. Squeeze and ride on the sides of the road to pass cars, trucks, and buses. When waiting for lights they often weave in and out to get to the front. And then they take off before the light turns green. EVERY. TIME.

And every day, what do I see? Car and moto accidents. Moto and bicycle (another important mode of transportation) accidents, only moto accidents (usually from trying to avoid car, bus, bicycle, pedestrian). There is SO MUCH going on all the time on these streets.

Cars, motos, buses, they all ride EXTREMELY close to one another, pass eachother in tight quarters, make their own lanes according to need. I dont know how I'll ever learn to drive here. One thing I have noticed though, and only can say for the few cars I have rode in, here in Ipatinga, is there are no cup holders. Well there really isn't much of anything. I think mainly because the cars are so small. But there seems to be less to distract them. I have only seen one driver so far on a cell phone while driving (I'm SURE there are more, but not nearly as many as in the US), I have yet to see anyone eating. And in general it seems people here pay more attention, because if you weren't, you would for sure get in an accident.

There are auto schools EVERYWHERE in Ipatinga. So my question is, do they teach you to drive this way? In my opinoin aggressive. Or is it a natural Brazilian trait? I can tell you this much...I understand my husbands driving SO MUCH more now. And his disdain at the way we drive in the states. Not that I condone it. I prefer our spacious, slow ways.

So even though my husband would LOVE to have this yellow, very fast death machine motorcycle (since he is moto-ing it with no motor i.e. bicycle) I put my foot down. We will wait. And save. And buy a practical, somewhere in the late 90's model car. So that when I start to learn to drive, (and be a passenger) here, I can do so feeling a little more protected.

Until then, I will watch this, then look into puppy dog chestnut brown eyes and say....NO.

**Another important note to be made: Here they do need to wear helmets, which I am all for. If you are going to ride one of these things, helmets ARE necessary. For me so is fully protective clothing. Jeans, long sleeves, and close toed shoes. However, we are in Brazil.

***Another important note: I like motorcycles. My dad has a Goldwing (which for those who aren't familiar, it's a touring bike. You know the motorcycle with the big travel boxes on the side?) and we went on a trip together where we rode for days. I really enjoyed myself. But they bikes that go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds are insane. And dangerous if not trained properly and used properly. A huge factor that makes me biased is one of my best friend's from college Tori. Our freshmen year, she got into an accident on a motorcycle, she had major damage to her brain, lost ability to use the right side of her body, talk, walk, eat, etc. She has been going through years of rehabilitation and it has drastically changed her life. I am amazed at the leaps and bounds she has made in recovery and I am proud of her every day. However this makes me an advocate for safety and gives me the realization of what that 0 to 60 can do to your life in the flash of an eye.


Ballerina Girl said...

So true about the motos, isn't it. I always have a giggle when they curve around the side mirrors on the cars to get ahead in the endless traffic!
Your pictures of Ipatingha are beautiful...looks very nice.
How is it all going? Hard to adjust somewhat, right?

Give me an email if you want to really talk!

corinne said...

The motorcycles are insane! You are right about not multi-tasking in the car, though. Using cellphones while driving is a R$900 fine and Brazilians don´t eat on the go (no to-go cups). Plus having to shift means you need both hands to drive. I could not get the hang of stick and just bought an automatic (Toyota with cup holders).

Lisa said...

Oh my! That is scary; sounds like they have American drivers beat. Be careful!!!

Lisa Q

Stephanie said...

BG- things are going well. I already feel like Ive been here forever. I cant tell if thats good or bad haha, but its been about 3 months this week! Time has flown by! I like to think Im adjusting well. I am really feeling 'saudades' about communicating effectively. That is really the most frustrating thing. That and walmart/target. I really miss stores. How sad huh? haha I'll send an email soon!!

Corinne-- I didn't know about the fine!! That is crazy! I will def remember that!! And I forgot no eating on the go. Very true! Thankfully I had been driving on a stick in the US, so if I HAD to drive here, I could. Though I would be completely lost. It's going to take a while to get used to getting around here! All the bairros and connections confuse the heck out of me. And it is a relatively small city!! I can't wait until we buy a car! Hopefully that will be in the next couple of months! Neither one of us are used to not having one. And we're frustrated by simple things like needing to go to the store for groceries and lugging them all the way home! haha Life is so different than once imagined! But I know my husband, and we will have a car soon. It's on the brain!

markuza said...

they may have a fine for using your cell, but I've never heard of that being enforced. pretty much like the 'lei seca' which is zero tolerance dui - very severe penalty, very random enforcement. But better than it used to be- once I saw a guy driving a motorcycle drinking a beer! I agree that the driving 'style' is way too agressive here- I've been driving for five years and I still find it terrifying.

Dari said...

That scares me to even think about driving there! I don't blame you about the motorcycle. They are scary and it sounds even riskier there. Plus a car is more practical for the both of you to ride on, etc

I love hearing about how different things are there. I hope you are doing good! I love you lots!

camila said...

Motorcycles in Brazil are deadly, you're right. They're crazy!! And traffic is insane, but I like to say it's organized caos. In the US (at least here in LA), people are agressive in a different way: they think they're the only ones on the road, no awareness. They change lanes and expect people to move out of their way. In Brazil people are very aggressive, but everyone expects it...

In regards to cars not having a cup holder, some newer models do have them. I think the reason might be that in Brazil, while you're driving, you're supposed to have both hands on the wheel. No eating, no drinking, no talking on the cellphone (although NOBODY follows that law).

I got to your blog through Bia's.

Greg said...

I totally agree with your thoughts on motorbikes here in Brazil. You may like to checkout a post (about motorcycles in Brazil)on my blog from a few months back.

Vanessa Rogers said...

Kyle has always begged for a motorcycle and I just put my foot down. I know too many people who have either lost their lives or part of their brain function from those reckless vehicles. I guess it isn't the vehicle that is reckless, but it encourages recklessness. It isn't worth the risk.

ko said...

Thats always the 1st thing sergio tells me when he gets in a taxi in Rio....SCARY..He said it is really i dont blame you at all!!! he is more scared riding in the taxi from Rio to Macae..than working 28 days on a rig!!!!

Vanessa Rogers said...

hey, you had a wonderful quote on here before.. something about craters and mountains and hope. I can't remember it and can't find it. Do you know what I am talking about?

Fabiola said...

Well... what can I can... You haven't seen the motoboys in São Paulo. Once on my way to work, I counted 132 motoboys in less than 10 miles (from home to work).

São Paulo's mayors made up a law to forbid the mototaxi. Because it is so dangerous.

In Curitiba (my hometown), the transit is much more like in US. People really respect the laws, but in São Paulo - just forget it.
People drive like nuts : (