You never know what you’ll see on this free bike tour of Havana

You never know what you'll see on this free bike tour of HavanaHAVANA, Aug. 17th Bicicletear La Habana (Bicycling Havana) is a free gathering of bike lovers who cycle en masse throughout Cuba’s capital city following a route that is not finalised until just a few minutes before the ride starts.

On the first Sunday of every month, at 5pm, around a hundred bike enthusiasts show up at Parque de los Mártires Universitarios in the corner of San Lázaro and Infanta streets, in Centro Habana, Havana’s liveliest neighbourhood. There’s no official advertising campaign promoting the activity, there is no specific leader, and there isn’t any brand sponsoring it.

Yasser González, the founder of the non-profit movement, told Lonely Planet News that the idea was to hold a mass ride around the city as a way to highlight the benefits of using gas-free means of transportation and to promote the adoption of bike-friendly policies on the roads.

Not only do they want to improve the visibility of bicycle issues, but they also aim to promote more bike lanes, parking slots, bike shops, and bike-related happenings around the country, he explains.You never know what you'll see on this free bike tour of Havana

If you don’t have a bike of your own (or a Cuban friend), you can contact Bicicletear La Habana and they’ll give you tips on where to find discounted renting options.

The love affair between Cuba and bicycles dates back to the 1990s, when the island nation suffered a massive economic collapse,  which was called the  ‘Special Period’ by Fidel Castro. China donated about a million bikes to Cuba as a way to ease the difficulties created by the lack of transportation.

After a decade, Cubans’ love affair with the bicycle ended with many considering it a symbol of the failure of the political system and a reminder of the hardest years of the Special Period.You never know what you'll see on this free bike tour of Havana

However, in recent years, the bicycle has once again become popular in Havana as a cost-effective way of showing the city to tourists. But there’s still a lot to do in terms of roads safety, something that González and his crew aim to draw attention towards.

Bicicletear La Habana takes most of its founding principles from the Critical Mass movement, a born-in-San Francisco cultural phenomena that has spread to 300 cities worldwide. Founded in 2015 with only a dozen participants, the Havana-based version now has over a hundred participants.

Feeling inspired for a ride? For upcoming dates and events, visit their website or Bicicletear La Habana in Facebook.
(www.lonelyplanet.com)