From the print edition
This Saturday, cyclists from across the country are gathering in Dominical, on the southern Pacific coast, to demand awareness for biking safety and respect. A group called ¡CUÍDENOS! will post red triangle signs depicting bicyclists along a popular cycling route and distribute car scents with the same symbol to remind drivers to share the road.
Biking teams will install the ¡CUÍDENOS! red triangles from Dominical to Palmar on both sides of the Costañera highway. There will be a ¡CUÍDENOS! station in Dominical and another in Uvita for the distribution of car scents and guidelines for the drivers. More than 100 cyclists are expected to participate.
“Cycling in Costa Rica is a treat,” said ¡CUÍDENOUS! organizer Marie-Danielle Croteau. “You can practice the sport all year round and in fantastic landscapes. But still, many people only have a bike for transportation.”
Croteau said the idea behind the distribution of car scents is to have direct contact between cyclists and drivers. Along with the car scent comes a card with indications for a safe road-sharing with the cyclists.
“We will give them something that is pretty and useful,” she said. “Something they will not throw away and that they will have permanently in front of them.”
On online travel forums like Lonely Planet, many contributors advise against cycling on roads in Costa Rica due to rain, disrepair, a poor driving culture and disrespect for cyclists.
The danger of cycling in this country was most recently underscored in May, when Alejandro Alvarado, a well-known Tico cyclist, was hit and killed by a driver while training in Guanacaste. The accident occurred the day before Alvarado was set to compete in a large competition called the Guanaride race.
Costa Rica is well-known for its mountain biking opportunities, but not its road biking potential, said Luis Diego Chaverri, Guanaride director and cycling trainer. The country is greatly lacking in infrastructure to make road cycling a safe activity. When embarking on any biking venture, Chaverri recommends riding in a group during the daylight hours and over a designated route. If possible, tell others where you are going and when you will be back, he said.
“It’s not secret that in places like the Central Valley, petty theft is a problem, so plan ahead,” Chaverri said. “This might not be as much an issue in other regions, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.”
Chaverri added that the route between Dominical and Palmar is a popular ride because the road is wide and traffic is light, making it a good focus for ¡CUÍDENOS!.
“We simply want to contribute to a necessary change in the driver mentality,” Croteau said. “Some will read the information, some won’t. But one thing is for sure, all will keep the car scent and … they will see the logo on signs … The repetition should have impact. Every action is important. That’s how people make things change.”