Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma avenue is now patrolled every day by 100 female police officers on bicycles.
Since January, the transit officers – most of whom are recent graduates of the capital’s Police University – have been riding up and down the emblematic boulevard to keep a discerning eye on fellow cyclists as well as motorists and pedestrians.
Among the officers’ duties are directing traffic, attending motor vehicle accidents, administering first aid and accompanying the frequent protest marches that make their way along the avenue.
One of the officers, a 19-year-old woman only identified as Jacqueline, told the newspaper El Universal that in a 12-hour shift she rides the roughly four-kilometer distance between the Estela de Luz monument at the entrance to Chapultepec Park and Hidalgo Avenue in the city’s historic center as many as eight times.
Two months after beginning their bicycle patrols, the 100 officers have become well-acquainted with the most common offenses committed by citizens on Paseo de la Reforma.
They include pedestrians not crossing the wide avenue where they should, motorists blocking the bike paths, cyclists failing to obey traffic light signals and electric scooter users riding on the sidewalk.
According to Jacqueline, “a lot of people break the rules not because they want to but because they don’t know” what the rules are.
In addition to issuing warnings to scofflaws, the officers also offer friendly advice, such as telling cyclists not to wear headphones while they ride.
Elizabeth, another 19-year-old officer, said it is the responsibility of all the women on two wheels to set a good example for others.
Supervisor Marlene Yuridia explained that all the new recruits to the special police team received specific training for their roles, which in some cases included riding lessons.
“Some of them didn’t know how to ride a bike,” Yuridia said. “But they were given the training they needed in order to be able to get on, [ride] and not have an accident.”
She added that the officers have built up a good rapport with the more than 3,000 other cyclists who use Paseo de la Reforma’s bike paths on a daily basis.
“The cyclists have congratulated us, they say ‘good morning’ or ‘thank you very much’ . . .” Yuridia said.
However, her police partner said that not everyone appreciates their presence.
“. . . Life in Mexico City is stressful so you can find the most polite people as well as the rudest . . .” Eliana Ilse said.
While so far they have been limited to giving warnings, the 100 female officers will soon receive hand-held devices that allow them to issue fines.
Source: El Universal (sp)