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EcoBici Bike Sharing

EcoBici is a bike-share program that was established in Mexico City in 2010; it began its foray into sustainable travel with a robust system of 86 bike stations and 1200 bicycles. The City, together with some of the biggest cities around the world, joined the movement towards making bicycles a fundamental element for sustainability and mobility. Though a bike-centric city seemed a nearly utopian ideal ten years ago, the year 2018 saw a significant shift towards making this ideal a reality as bicycle programs became a tool for resilience and a way for civic participation to formulate public policy.

Modern discourse in city-building has centered around the creation of cyclist infrastructure in the hopes of changing the cultural paradigm around mobility. Recently, Mexico City has undertaken a goal both to ensure that transportation would require less street space and to popularize sustainable mobility practices. In this sense, the public project EcoBici was certainly a catalyzer of the Transit Oriented Development theory (TOD) that puts into practice the idea of “creating vibrant, walkable, mixed-use communities surrounding transit stations.” A TOD approach aims for a higher quality of life with better places to live, work, and play by shortening the travel-time to all of these. Greater mobility is needed in a city with a chaotic transit system in order to decrease congestion and, therefore, pollution. From 2008 to 2016 the number of bicycle rides increased by a staggering 496%, a change that resonated in Mexico City’s everyday life. The City is aiming to create incentives for dynamic development by increasing the use of bicycles through programs and projects that aim to help citizens understand the impacts of sustainable mobility.

The first intent in designing bike lanes in Mexico City was merely to service recreational cyclists. The Mayor at the time introduced cycling lanes in a suburban neighbourhood, though these received negative feedback due to poorly planned and badly built infrastructure. However, it was nevertheless a feat of political will, technical agendas, and civic engagement that helped to plan and design this first implementation.

Being aware that bike riders in the city were already an existing community, the EcoBici project targeted areas with residents who would commute small distances while their commute times were over 30 or 40 minutes due to traffic. The project, having learned from its previous iterations, was founded on the idea that the best way to get people cycling was to provide the necessary and adequate infrastructure. The first bike lanes were placed along one of the City’s main avenues, Paseo de la Reforma. Since then, Mexico City has lost much momentum in its initiative to promote the use of bicycles in urban spaces. Despite this bump in the road to a predominantly active modal share, people now have access to a more clean and free open space as the slow move towards greater bike use will provide long-term benefits for generations of Mexican citizens.

Al ser conscientes que los usuarios de bicicletas en una ciudad donde hay una comunidad existente pero dividida, que generalmente vive en áreas de la ciudad de bajos ingresos porque la bicicleta es el único transporte para sus posibilidades económicas, EcoBici fue destinado para las áreas donde las distancias son cortas pero el tiempo de traslado era de 30 o 40 minutos debido al tráfico regular. El proyecto, después de haber aprendido de el experimento anterior, decidió que la mejor manera de empezar era generar una infraestructura adecuada. Así es como se colocó el primer carril para bicicletas en una de las principales avenidas, el Paseo de la Reforma. Desde entonces, ha sido un verdadero desafío el encontrar los canales precisos de comunicación para lograr la transformación necesaria y el refuerzo de los programas que pueden dar un impulso al uso de la bicicleta en espacios urbanos. Convirtiéndose en una visión de los ciudadanos para que las personas puedan experimentar el derecho a un espacio más limpio, libre y abierto para que pueda moldear las políticas públicas y que se pueda implementar y evaluar para garantizar su durabilidad.