But a lot has changed over the past two years, or at least it has in our part of town. These days more and more people seem to be getting on their bikes, and it's not just for a gentle Sunday morning pootle around the conveniently deserted roads either. People really seem to be using their bikes to get somewhere particular now; to work, to school, to the shops.
So drivers were asked to do various things including;
• Reduce speed when approaching an intersection.
• Indicate in advance before making a turn.
• Give priority to pedestrians who have started crossing the road.
• Stop as soon as people begin to cross the crosswalk.
• Always stop at a red light when there is traffic.
• Expect the pedestrian to finish crossing even after the green light.
• Observe the speed limit on the road.
To which I have to say, well, duh!
But to give the average Brazilian driver some credit, the campaign seems to have been a huge success. I now find that I can cross the road pretty successfully on most occasions, even with children in tow, and drivers really will stop if I'm standing right in front of them when they try to turn. And clearly, respect for the pedestrian has given drivers the idea that they can respect other people as well; other drivers for a start, and also cyclists - especially those odd ones who seem to like to cycle on the road instead of the pavement.
São Paulo even has its own rent-a-bike scheme now as well, Bike Sampa. It's fairly new and I only noticed the distinctive orange bikes for the first time last weekend, but since then I have seen one or two of them around the place.