Tale of Two Cities: A U.S.-Mexico Bike Trail

Election rhetoric aside, towns on the U.S.-Mexico border share common urban challenges. A proposal is in the works to connect Brownsville, Texas and the Mexican city of Matamoros via bike path.
September 29, 2016, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Chad Zuber

In the current political climate, taking a casual bike trip across the U.S.-Mexico border seems like an impossibility. But to many border communities, nationalist rhetoric takes a back seat to shared local issues. On one such situation, Ana Arana writes, "Considered as one metropolitan area, Brownsville, Matamoros and the suburbs of both cities comprise more than 1.1 million people."

Bridging the dividing line between Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, many officials from both sides consider the region a "conurbated metropolis": "an urban region made up of many cities and towns where jurisdictional boundaries can complicate decision making." Shared considerations include pollution, traffic, crime, and public health, none of which can be halted at a porous border. The two cities also share intimate economic ties. 

Across a border stereotyped as a place for illegality, city officials like Matamoros Planning Director Mauricio Ibarra want to connect the two communities in an innovative way: a bi-national park and bike trail. He's positioning the proposal as a path toward connecting the two cities' cultural districts. 

While security will still be a concern (the park may be sited close to a new U.S. consulate complex, which provides enhanced security), "Ibarra says his park will be a way to reacquaint Brownsville with Matamoros. After all, he says, both cities have gone through difficult times together over many decades and they have always pulled through." 

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Published on Friday, August 26, 2016 in CityLab
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