Citizens to the Rescue: Safer Streets for Pedestrians and Bikes in Mexico

A group of citizens in Mexico City were fed up with the lack of safe pedestrian walkways and bike pathts, and decided to take matters into their own hands, with positive results.

The folk in El Puente district of Mexico City began painting footpaths and bike lanes in areas designated for cars.  Whilst the traffic respected these newly created lanes, others did not.  As their efforts were erased, they got more vocal, more bold and began expanding their activities.  So far, they've had a few wins, including a 5km bike lane leading to the Congress building, that is well used, and also symbolic in its location, drawing political attention towards the issue of safety and accessibility for pedestrians and bikes in the city.

The inititative is called 'Camina Haz Ciudad' - Walk (re)make your city.  As discussed on 'This Big City':

"The idea is to make people aware pedestrians exist...A lot of people got involved in the process, people of different ages and professional backgrounds. These type of interventions are ephemeral but the sense of empowerment, the process of remaking our city with creativity and passion is also important. It’s worth doing, even if it may not have the permanence of other infrastructure developments. "

The group used crowdsourcing (such as sites like kickstarter) to fund their work, and use social media to rally the troops.

Like so many examples of community based 'pop up' planning, ventures such as this are one way for communities to draw attention to a particular urban issue, and to trial an idea to see how it might work.  I wonder what would happen if someone tried this out in Melbourne - would chaos ensue?  Would cars just ignore it?  Would people actually use the makeshaft lanes?

Read on here or watch a video and read more here (although this one is in Spanish).


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