Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everyone is Enjoying Ecobici....















The next stage of Mexico City's Mayor Ebrard's ten year Green Plan has hit the streets of the Big Taco with a resounding success. Almost overnight, 84 ecobici stations have sprouted in the Colonias of Condesa, Roma, Juarez and Cuauhtemoc, and they are proving mighty popular. The idea is to use the bikes for short commuter journeys - simply pick them up at one bike rack and drop them off at another. Once you have your annual card (300 pesos) the first half hour is free, and then it is 10 pesos per hour up to two hours maximum....















Why is it fun to be cycling around the streets of Mexico City right now?? Well the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the jacarandas are in full bloom everywhere. Now we just need the next stage - bike lanes and more courteous consideration from car drivers...fingers crossed!! For more windows on the world this week check out My World Tuesday by clicking here.

18 comments:

Gary Denness said...

I came across them a few weeks back, and to be honest, I'm not entirely convinced. For starters, every station I pass is full of bikes, and I've never actually seen anyone riding one! Maybe I'm passing at the wrong time, and maybe they will take off. I am tempted to go buy myself a card....but then I have my own bike, so....

J Bar said...

Great shots.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Those bikes are a pretty cool idea. We have something similar in Tulsa and it has worked out ok but after a couple of years the cost to maintain the bikes and station has been increasing rapidly. - Which to me is to be expected.

allhorsestuff said...

Great Idea...hope it takes to the streets positively, like ours did in Portland, Oregon.
Love those trees!
KK

Indrani said...

Go Green!
Great initiative.

Sylvia K said...

It did work well in Portland! And, oh, I do love the jacarandas! Great shots! Hope your week is going well, Catherine!

Sylvia

caughtbymycamera said...

It is a great idea but I wonder if it really works in busy Mexico. Are there any cycle tracks at all?

ladyfi said...

We have those bikes in Sweden too, but not the jacaranda.. just snow...

Joyful said...

I love that Mexico City, such a populated city, is undertaking this eco experiment. I hope they are successful. I also love the beautiful Jacaranda tree. I love spring blossoms on trees and have snapped a lot this week myself for different posts.

Michael Wolf said...

A success? I guess... if by success you mean doing a good turn to some of the people who need it least, the denizens of Condesa, part of Roma Norte, and Zona Rosa. For the rest of us, even we who live in the slums of Coyoacán or the Polanco ghetto, the ecobici program is nearly useless. Like Gary, I've barely seen them used. One person, once, on a Saturday, and several others during the ciclotón last Sunday.

I laud the program's nominal goals, but let's call it what it really is: signaling. Ebrard is trying to position himself as belonging among the mayors of large European cities (and, to a much lesser extent, he's trying to position the DF among those cities).

It's no accident that the bikes are in the same area as where lots of tourists go. Those bikes are meant to be seen by foreigners.

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Peter said...

As you may know, we have the same system in Paris since some two years now! Basically it works quite well, but there are some feelings that the interest has gone down... maybe it's a seasonal issue also. Let's see now when the spring seems to be there!

Catherine said...

Hi gary and michelle - thanks for your comments but just to let you know am not at all in agreement with you - I live right where they are and they are being used frequently especially at weekends when they is less traffic and the office was crammed when I went to get my card with both locals and foreigners. Surely anything that makes this city more bike friendly and less car centred has to be good right?? the next stage if successful is to expand the programme into areas like Polanco and introduce bike lanes. When I first arrived in DF 5 years ago - you never saw anyone on a bike and to own one would have been sheer madness - How about a bit of positivity??

Catherine said...

Hi everyone - thanks for stopping by this week - your comments are always much appreciated...

Gary Denness said...

Catherine - I think it's fair to say the project needs time to get off the ground. But I've walked past countless stations, and did so again today - all of them full of bikes. And no one to be seen riding one. It'll only work if there is an uptake on a decent scale.

I do think they need to make getting a card easier. At launch they should have had mobile card units out and about for starters.

And I do like to be positive, but only when I see it as being a really good idea. The city has opened up a huge amount of cycle lanes, and the free bike hire is brilliant, as is the ciclothon.

I'm not writing off this project - far from it. I very much hope it succeeds. I just have my reservations. At the moment I'm far more interested in further pedestrianization of streets, more Metrobus lines, the tram system that was being touted a few years back, and an extension of the current cycle lanes.

I've read about similar schemes across the world. Some of them do ok, but a fair few don't. I hope this is one that fits in the former category, but that the latter category exists tells me that it's not something that works everywhere.

consumidor consciente said...

I see several problems with this program (apologies for the rant):
* The cost to the taxpayers: While the system is operated by a private company (Clear Channel Outdoor) the financing comes from the public coffers to the tune of 75 million pesos. For Mexico this is not a meager sum. Clear Channel also received authorization for 150 billboards across the city.
According to this note, there is an assumption of 3 million pesos lost to theft and vandalism per year. If the actual losses exceed this projection the government of the Federal District will pay the difference (Apparently CC is not taking any financial risk).
After 6 weeks approximately 2,400 people have signed up for the service, ~1,600 per month. The Federal District's government's target is 24,000 users. A back of the envelope calculation makes me think that they are aiming to recover their investment in 10 years. They may or may not reach their goal, I hope they do. The system may or may not be working in 10 years, but I can not remember a single program in Mexico that lasted that long. Once the politicians have taken their cut there is little incentive to maintain it in working order.

* Misguided priorities: This is the same government that is not capable of keeping the street lights working or the trash off the streets. When I'm with my daughter in the "Parque Mexico" and she needs to use the bathroom we have to pay (exact change only!) and a drinking fountain is nowhere to be found in the whole city.

* The cost for the user: The minimum salary in mexico is 57.5 pesos per day. A quick search reveals that in New York it is U$7.25 per hour. If you compare a la UBS Big Mac Index the 5 days of minimum wage it takes to pay the ecobici fee would be equivalent to 290 US Dollars. This obviously is not an exact equivalency but it gives you an idea of what 300 pesos means to a person earning minimum wage.

* The need for a credit or debit card: not everybody has them obviously. I suspect that among people riding the metro and wanting to use the bikes for the "last kilometer" (the alleged target audience) the proportion of cardholders is lower.
This requirement also means that the system is of no use to tourist.

* Since I am not a bike rider I can not comment on how safe riding a bike in these areas is, but I have read many comment indicating that it is border line suicidal (on the launch day a D.F. government official had an accident trying to avoid a car!). There are no bike lanes so some riders take to the sidewalks. As a pedestrian I can tell you this is annoying and potentially dangerous. This has been characterized by the government as "details" that will be worked out eventually. Martha Delgado, environment secretary stated, on the record, that "usage comes first, then the infrastructure" I disagree, they should have taken care of this before unleashing these 1,000 bikes on us.

consumidor consciente said...

...
I realize that this sound pessimistic and cynical.
I am completely in favor of changing the way we live to be more eco-friendly, but the concepts should be sustainability and cost/benefit. If money is not an issue, why not give away priuses to everybody?, or subsidize them at least for use as taxis.

Instead they have chosen to drop this program in these gentrified neighborhoods where they are needed the least.

Gary Denness said...

Those are the sort of stats that reflect my current views on the project.

There are bike paths, however. Nearly 90kms of them. Which have never been used much and which are, apparently, falling into disrepair.