Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No Helmets Allowed - São Paulo

This is my favorite local gas station--they know me and they know I never can remember where to pop the hood of my husband's car. Or how many psi go into the tires. Yes, gas stations in Brazil are all still full-serve (eat your hearts out, USA!)

The top sign on this gas station divider is to tell motorcycle riders that they must remove helmets on their way up to the pump. The good news is that there is indeed a helmet law in Brazil--all motorcyclists must wear helmets. In fact this particular Brazilian law works--I have never seen someone in São Paulo without a helmet. In the countryside I have, but only on dirt roads. When my husband had to vote while on vacation in Bahia (voting is mandatory in Brazil), he went by moto-taxi to the post office to justify his non-vote (you also have to vote from your home polling location--no such thing as absentee. If you can't be there on vote day, you must justify your absence). As he got on the motorcycle, the taxi driver handed him his extra helmet.  And if your friend only has a pink helmet because usually his wife is riding with him, then you wear a pink helmet. Take that, easy rider.

The bad news is that the sign requesting the removal of helmet is required for security, of course. With a number of armed robberies at the pump, taking off the helmet has become necessary to identify the bad guys. More and more establishments put in video monitoring, and in fact most private houses now have it too. One of the least wonderful things about living here in the big city.

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