Mexico City, like many cities around the world, has lost its walkable scale. Long distances and fast traffic have made walking less attractive, and streetscapes have been built to move cars, not people. The WHO Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 estimates that more than 15,000 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Mexico every year. Most of those killed or injured on Mexico’s roads are young and are between 15 and 29 years old. In addition, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists account for more than a third of all fatalities.
Nonetheless, Mexico City has shown strong political leadership in recent years in support of sustainable mobility projects. From implementing and expanding the highly successful bike share program, ecoBici, to piloting progressive parking policies like EcoParq, city officials have demonstrated a willingness to take bold action to improve the transportation network. Building on these policies and projects, activists have high hopes to make pedestrian safety Mexico City’s next success story.
Through tactical urbanism and online campaigns, activists in Mexico City have been calling attention to pedestrian safety issues and asking for more pedestrian infrastructure. Local activists have launched a range of campaigns, including MiPlaza (MyPlaza), #Camina (#Walk) and YoMeMuevo (I Move). The groundswell of support has worked. Mayor Miguel Mancera recently (2015) announced a new Vision Zero policy aimed at improving safety and comfort for pedestrians and providing the opportunity to enact real change in Mexico City.
Activists used several techniques to raise awareness. Using tactical urbanism, the #CAMINA program used traffic cones to creates more space for people on foot at intersections, proving the ease and benefits of prioritizing walking. A similar campaign, MiPlaza, turns part of the Centro Historico into a recreational space every Sunday. The program allows residents to enjoy the streets without competing with motor vehicles. Employing a different strategy, the national YoMeMuevo campaign asked candidates running for public office to sign on to a Mobility Agenda. During the project, over 200 candidates, running for offices from municipal leader to Governor, pledged support for the principles of safe, equitable, and sustainable transport.
On International Pedestrian Day (April 17th), activists’ efforts paid off when Mayor Miguel Mancera announced a new set policies aimed at bringing the city in line with the global Vision Zero movement. As advocates continue to push for the strongest policies and enforcement, Mexico City has set itself on a good path, moving forward.
Using tactical urbanism, social media, and outreach to government officials, activists are finding innovative ways to impact street design and public policy.
Tactical urbanism is a tool for reconsidering the distribution of public space, using temporary infrastructure to transformed intersections and streets. For the #Camina campaign, activists used large traffic cones to block off road space, creating a design that featured shorter crossings, pedestrian islands, and extended sidewalks. The new layout created a more even distribution of space, and removed the standard assumptions about the supremacy of cars in Mexico streets.
The YoMeMuevo campaign used social media (#YoMeMuevo) to engage with candidates running for elections across the country and the federal district. By asking candidates to pledge support for the Mobility Agenda, they can be held more accountable once in office.
To influence public policy, civil society organizations have worked closely with government officials, hosting workshops to present the benefits of pro-pedestrian measures, commenting on laws and regulations, and encouraging strong political and fiscal support for pedestrian measures. Over time, these strategies lead to informed public policies with strong political backing.
As active transport has become a more visible and potent issue, it has received more attention from elected officials in Mexico City. Political pressure has encouraged leaders to take new steps toward creating a safe, accessible street environment for pedestrians, and one that encourages residents to take low or non-emitting forms of transport. In addition to announcing overarching pro-pedestrian policies, Mexico City has begun allocating more money for funding non-motorized transport projects. As Mexico City regains its walkable scale, more residents can choose to avoid driving, and move toward transport modes with lower emissions, including walking, cycling, and public transit.
Mexico City has become a leader in sustainable transport nationally, regionally, and globally in recent years. The city has launched several corridors of highly successful BRT, including creating bus only streets in Historic center and (Line 4) and creating complete streets (Line 5). In addition, the city’s EcoBici bike share is one of the most successful in the world, and continues expanding. Mexico City won the 2013 Sustainable Transport Award, recognizing the city’s leadership in advancing sustainable urban growth. Cities across the region in the world are looking to Mexico City to see how to improve sustainable transport, and Mexico City’s recent steps to improve pedestrian safety will have a big effect.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico, Mitigation, Walking, Cycling, Awareness
Dozens of civil society organizations in Mexico City
Gabriel Lewenstein Gabriel.Lewenstein@itdp.org
"It's very dangerous walking to school. The cars go very fast and they should break more when they see people so that they don't hit them." - Lluvia, age 7, Mexico City.