Research underway on NMT in Mexico (institutional set up, policy framework and reality for pedestrians and cyclists) with NMT policy development for two cities planned for completion by end of 2018
At present, Mexican cities are dominated by motorized modes and recent estimates suggest an alarming trend in increased use of private cars, the vehicle fleet may reach 70 million vehicles in 2030. Thus, challenges of traffic congestion and air pollution resulting especially from an old vehicles fleet and lack of investments in NMT experienced in Mexico City, are replicated throughout the country.
On average, Mexicans spend 2 hours per day in transport (Source: Mario Molina Centre), time which is not only lost to social lives, but also results in economic losses. According to a study by ITDP in 2012, the negative externalities of congestion, local pollution, noise, emissions of greenhouse gases and car accidents in five metropolitan areas of Mexico (Valley of Mexico, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puebla-Tlaxcala and Leon) that constitute 42% of the urban population and 40% of the vehicle fleet of the country; generated a social cost equal to 4% of the total GDP of these cities.
In 2007, in response to the significant challenges, Mexico City developed the Green Plan (Plan Verde), which included programmes on transportation and mobility. Together with an Integrated Urban Transportation Programme and a bicycle mobility strategy, the city has focused on the development of mass transit and NMT (Pearl, 2015). The goals included the following:
- Improve the quality and availability of public transportation
- Lower the number of private vehicles on the roads
- Promote NMT
- Speed up mobility on the road
- Foster a road culture that respects cyclists and pedestrians
On a regular basis since 2007, part of the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, the biggest city centre street, was closed to cars to provide space for pedestrians and cyclists as part of the “Muévete en bici” (Bike Move). This event has grown to become the fifth largest car-free day in Latin America, with 48 km of streets closed to motorized traffic (City Fix). In 2008 the Ministry of Environment opened a Non-Motorized Mobility Strategy Office to coordinate the building of better bike infrastructure, integrating cycling into the wider transport system, creating a cycling culture, and increasing access for all the city’s residents to cycling. Pedestrianization of the city’s historical centres and neighbourhoods began in 2010. Cycling-infrastructure was introduced as part of the “Programa de Corredores de Movilidad No Motorizada” (Non-Motorized Lanes Programme), adding 31 km of bicycle lanes.
“Ecobici” public bicycle system (bike-share) is one of the success stories of promoting sustainable uses of transport. The public bike share system was launched in 2010 as part of the city’s Bicycle Mobility Strategy and NMT Master Plan of Mexico City. It began operations with 85 stations and currently has 444 with a coverage area of 32 km. EcoBici users are surveyed and the system evaluated every year. It counts around 30,000 uses during weekdays and it has been used 36 million times since 2010 (Source: Ecobici website) and makes it the 4th biggest public bike share scheme in the world.
Share the Road support
Working with local partner World Resource Institute Mexico and the UN Environment country office in Mexico, Share the Road has commenced the support for Mexico in the development of NMT policies. Methodology for research has been completed, along with stakeholder engagement. The research on NMT in Mexico (institutional arrangements, policy framework and the reality for pedestrians and cyclists) is ongoing and the two cities chosen for support are Aguascalientes and Oaxaca. This will be followed by NMT policy development completion by end of 2018.