The city's new mayor is hoping to follow the footsteps of Bogotá's Enrique Peñalosa and transform the Mexican capital of 20 million inhabitants into a people- and environmentally-friendly metropolis.
"Since taking office in December, Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has imposed tougher traffic rules to make pedestrians safer, installed security cameras in high-crime neighborhoods and required city staffers to ride their bicycles to work once a month.
The city trucked in sand to build "urban beaches" at seven public pools, screened outdoor movies and inaugurated "bicycle Sundays" when thousands of cyclists, skaters and pedestrians take over the main avenues. Ebrard even invited former Vice President Al Gore to lecture city residents about climate change this week.
On Sunday, the government held a "green referendum," asking capital residents to weigh in on questions such as whether buses and taxis should be replaced with newer, cleaner vehicles.
The mayor's goal is transforming the city into Latin America's latest model of urban renewal. The big idea behind these relatively inexpensive measures is that by encouraging happiness, rather than solely economic growth, he just might change residents' image of their city - and themselves."