It’s bicycle month in Mexico city and to celebrate, the city agency Muévete en Bici CDMX (Move by Bike Mexico City) will hold a 17-kilometer bicycle tour, “La Gran Rodada Ciclista,” on Saturday, June 22nd, starting at 9:00am.
The 22nd is the 11th anniversary of Muévete en Bici CDMX. Every Sunday, from 8:00am to 2:00pm, they close 55 kilometers of roadways in the city to cars and other motorized transport. Cyclists, pedestrians and skaters follow the route, which goes through four boroughs, from Benito Juárez in the south to Gustavo A. Madero in the north.
At each traffic light, monitors hold double-sided placards to instruct cyclists to continue or to stop. On the final Sunday of the month, the route changes and becomes much longer, including Circuito Bicentenario, the parkway that encircles the heart of Mexico City.
For the Gran Rodada, the route begins in the south at Avenida Universidad and Circuito Bicentenario and heads north to the second section of the Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s central park. Cyclists are free to start or stop wherever they choose, or go the entire route if they are up for the challenge.
Muévete en Bici is part of the Environmental Secretariat. In addition to closing the roads for cyclists, they offer a host of family-oriented activities each Sunday located at roundabouts along the route. There are cycling lessons for children and tandem-bike riding for the blind at Glorieta La Diana.
At Glorieta La Palma there is a play area for children, and you can borrow a bicycle, skates or a skateboard for free. (You must bring your voting registration card showing an address within Mexico City). The free bike rentals include special bicycles with back seats for kids and balance-assisted models. Below the Angel of Independence, Muévete en Bici offers free nutrition, yoga and physical activity classes.
Along the route, there are stations offering mechanical repair as well as medical service. It is advised to wear proper attire, including a helmet, and bring plenty of water.
Muévete en Bici also acts as an advocacy group for more bicycle infrastructure in Mexico City. Currently, 1.4% of daily trips in Mexico City are taken on a bicycle. During President López Obrador’s term, their goal is to increase that to 3%.
This year has seen 251 million pesos (US $13 million) of investment in bicycle infrastructure in the capital. There are currently 85 kilometers with another 40 kilometers still to be built.
Cycling enthusiasts are vocal about their desire to make Mexico City even more bike-friendly. A prime concern, voiced frequently on social media channels, is safety. Many bike lanes consistently have cars parked in them, forcing cyclists to compete against city buses and other traffic.
Despite legislation making those lanes exclusive to bicycles, the transit authority does not issue any type of fine or summons to violators. Many bike lanes have large potholes and faded paint at the intersections. Other bike lanes are shared with buses.
Many large cities such as New York and London have traffic lights with indicators specifically for cyclists, and Mexico City residents have taken notice, demanding their own such lights. The center and south of the city have the majority of cycling infrastructure, and residents of northern and eastern boroughs like Gustavo A. Madero, Azcapotzalco and Iztapalapa have taken to the Muévete en Bici website to request more bike lanes and bikeshare stations in their neighborhoods.
The next large project planned for completion in 2019 is the Sendero Compartido (shared pathway) on Paseo de la Reforma. It will run for three kilometers, from Lieja to Fuente de Petróleos, crossing through Chapultepec Park.
The residents of the outer boroughs will have to continue to wait for the government to act on their proposals for more bike lanes.
The writer lives and works in Mexico City.