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28/01/2011 // INFO Leave a comment

From chaos to cycle utopia



If someone mentioned Mexico City to me and asked me to try and describe it, the first thing that spring to mind is a smog filled hell hole with one never ending traffic jam.

Most of this insight has been gleaned from what I’ve seen on television and photos of course. The nearest I’ve been to Mexico City is the town of San Cristobal, a rather peaceful city in the central highlands of the Mexican state of Chiapas where horse drawn carts can still be found.

I just wouldn’t think of Mexico City as being bike friendly. However, it appears I am wrong, very wrong.

A friend of mine, who works for a multinational, is a regular visitor to Mexico City and was keen to tell me about cycling Sundays in the city.

24km Cycle Route

This is where swathes of the central part of Mexico City is closed off to cars, including the famous eight lane La Reforma boulevard that dominates the middle of the city. This happens every Sunday from from 9am until 2pm.

A 24km route has been created which covers the length of the La Reforma boulevard and Centro Historico (Historical Centre) part of the Mexican capital. 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 and a 32 km circuit called the Cicloton is created allowing citizens to take in more parts of the city.

City sponsored

The municipal government sponsors and marshals the cycling Sundays or as they are called locally the “Cambia de Carril y Muevete en Bici” (Change Lanes and Move on Bike).

The idea behind Cambia de Carril y Muevete en Bici is to encourage residents, families, and tourists to freely enjoy what can be a beautiful city without breathing car fumes from over 3.5m cars that normally dominate the city on a daily basis.

Free bikes

The city rents bikes and hands them out free to people on the routes and this compliments Mexico City’s bike hire scheme, EcoBici, which has many docking stations on both La Reforma and Cicloton. Of course, the routes can be walked, skated, and run on as well.

The idea of Cycle Sundays rather puts our Sky Ride schemes to shame. Maybe one day our big cities will do the same as Mexico City but I’m not holding my breath.

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