Mexico City doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being a pedestrian or bicycle-friendly city. In fact, most of the time, crossing the teeming boulevards of La Capital makes me feel like a lone matador being charged by a herd of enraged, snorting bulls. Consequently, I was amazed one recent Sunday morning to find the eight-lane Paseo de la Reforma completely closed to traffic and awash in a sea of happy bicyclists, rollerbladers, walkers, and joggers.
Every Sunday from 9am until 2pm, the city now bans motorized vehicles on the Paseo de La Reforma, one of Mexico City’s busiest arteries, and on several streets in the Centro Historico (Historical Center). This allows cyclists to go all the way from Chapultepec Park to the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square. On the third Sunday of every month, more streets are closed to create a 30 km circuit (19 miles) called the Cicloton. The city rents bikes and hands them out free to people, so it’s no surprise that these outings attract thousands of participants. I saw pedalers of all ages, including entire families and even punk rockers whizzing down the usually traffic-clogged Paseo de la Reforma.
This project is part of an ongoing plan to make Mexico City’s transportation infrastructure greener and more sustainable. Bicycles are now allowed on the Metro (subway) and on the new Metrobus system that traverses the city along Avenida Insurgentes. Other initiatives include increased parking for bicycles and the establishment of additional centers where people can borrow bikes.
On my visit, I was also heartened to see leaf-green, environmentally friendly pedicabs gliding through the smoggy downtown streets. These new hybrid taxis, powered by both leg power and electric motors, take sightseers and regular passengers along predetermined routes in the city center. Kudos to Mexico City for improving the livability of one of the world’s largest and most polluted metropolises, and for setting an example for the rest of the planet to follow.
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Mexico City Goes Green - Images by John Mitchell