Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is DF becoming a more bike-friendly city?

Four years ago, when I first moved here, the simple answer to this question would have been a loud and resounding NO! In fact I would have classified Mexico City as the least bike-friendly place I had ever lived in or visited; and statistics revealing that only 1% of journeys are taken by bike would have supported this perspective. That 1% is perhaps best represented by this image of a lone cyclist braving the empty roads during the height of the Swine Flu crisis....

But things are definitely beginning to change, all thanks to Mayor Marcelo Ebrard's 15 year Green Plan for the city, which is aiming to increase daily trips by bike to 5% by 2012. There are already many visible signs of this sea-change on the horizon.....


The partial road closure of Reforma on Sunday mornings for cyclists has proved increasingly popular lending a festive holiday atmosphere to the route. Twelve free bike rental stations have sprung up along the route; all you have to do is leave ID......Plus, they are operative all week from Tuesday to Sunday 10am - 6pm.


Hotels are also beginning to follow suit with free bike rentals for guests, and bike racks are proliferating all over the city...

Future plans, however, are going beyond leisure, and are really aiming to convince commuters to cycle - 20 km of protected bike lanes are planned for Reforma, San Cosme and Buenavista, 900 more bike racks will be set up, as well as parking facilities for 400 bikes at Constitucion Metro. An urban cycling school is also on the agenda to teach interested riders about safety on the road. This is vital as at present both drivers and cyclists show a flagrant disregard for pedestrians, and I have almost been mown down twice recently by two-wheelers hurtling towards me the wrong way down a one way street. Unfortunately much of the appeal of cycles and motorbikes on busy roads is to break all traffic rules to avoid jams... But hey, in the meantime, we have our own brand new bicitaxis whizzing gleefully around the zocalo in their own bike lane...

And who knows...maybe we will start to catch up with Copenhagen, currently the leading Western city for cycling with 36% journeys taken by bike. Maybe Mexico City will even begin to look like this recent art installation by Betsabee Romeo which shows the bicycle taking over the car...quite literally

Anyway, I am actually seriously considering getting a bike! Four years ago? Totally unthinkable!!

13 comments:

kristine said...

i can remember hearing at some point that living in mexico city was like smoking 40 marlboro red a day. No idea if that was remotely accurate, but i am guessing a bicycle revolution might not be a terrible idea!!

Hey Harriet said...

This is great news! Cycling is very big over here. You can pretty much travel to anywhere in Brisbane by bike with all the bike paths the council have created. We don't have 'free rentals' though. That's cool!

garydenness said...

I bought a bike a couple of years ago when I first found out about the weekly Ciclothon. Wish they'd change the route a bit more often than they do though! Sometimes it goes all the way out to the Basilica, but I always miss that one!

There is also the Chapultepec to Cuernavaca Ciclopista...all 70 odd miles of it! I'd planned to do that last year but it never happened. Maybe later this year....

http://garydenness.co.uk/2008/07/26/la-ciclopista/

Joanna said...

Good for Mexico. When we were in Patzcuaro a year ago we saw a bunch of people riding bikes and were very impressed.

Chris said...

I love cycling but don't do it as much since we moved to TN because this is not a bike friendly state like Florida was. Most Florida roads have nice bike lanes now. Here? Narrow, curvy roads with virtually no shoulder and a great big ditch on the side of the road for you to crash into when the big 4x4 SUV's come along. Can I move there? ;)

Catherine said...

It is very early days here for cyclists...let's hope it does take off and that drivers learn how to treat both cyclists and pedestrians with courtesy...here's hoping!!

Catherine said...

gary - let me know when you do that cycle track to Cuernavaca...sounds great..

Prêt à Voyager said...

what a great movement! i can't wait to take advantage of velib in paris :)

anne

JavaSrvcs said...

I just moved to Mexico City D.F. from the states a few weeks ago.

I'm having trouble finding equipment (or any bike shop at all here) and am thinking about having stuff shipped from the states.

If anyone has links or addresses, please drop me a line.

m o a b t e k [a t] g m a i l [dot] c o m

I prefer Specialized (from UT where there are made) so if you have any resources where I can buy (or for a short time rent a bike) that would be great.


gracias!

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