Bike Culture Gets Rolling in Mexico City

William Booth reports on the improbable growth of bike culture in a city long known for its choking air and anarchic traffic.

Booth gives credit for helping to ignite bicycle fever in Mexico City to its lefty Mayor Marcelo Ebrard who, five years ago, began a program of Sunday morning rides -- known as Muevete en Bici -- in which "city hall shuts major throughways to auto traffic and gives the right of way to tens of thousands of cyclists (and a bunch of rollerbladers and joggers and dogs, too) who wend their way down grand commercial avenues and hard-bitten byways in a leisurely 14-mile loop."

According to Booth, "It is good exercise, and good politics, with a bit of social engineering. Ebrard's idea is that if you want bike lanes, you need constituents, stakeholders, and so the Sunday rides offer a taste, a free sample, to change people's thinking about getting around on two wheels."

The Sunday rides are not a one-off effort in changing the city's culture, however. "The mayor followed the Sunday rides with the city's Ecobici program in 2010, which offers 26,000 active subscribers unlimited access to 1,200 bicycles at 90 stations for $25 a year," and will expand this year to 4,000 bicycles.

Full Story: Mexicans try two wheels to beat car culture

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