As part of a family vacation I brought my Brompton SL-3 to Mexico City.
At just over 8.91 million people, It’s one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and it sprawls covering 571 square miles. It’s a great city for getting around by bike. I found dedicated bike lanes, a high tolerance for sharing the road, and cyclists of all stripes–from parents taking teenagers to school, to fixie riders and just about everything in between. The official, EcoBici bikes and docks are the ubiquitous with 452 stations offering 6,000+ bikes across the city. Dockless bikes, like Jump also dot the urban landscape.
What about the experience of riding?
Mexico City consists of major thoroughfares–like Avenida de les Insurgentes–where there are several lanes of traffic going in each direction it’s a small island in the middle. These roads often feature a dedicated bus lane, which also doubles for a bike lane. These lanes are separated by very low rise dividers and unlike New York City, where bike lanes are often used for parking, in CD MX, bike lanes live up to their names.
Such lanes may sound like a luxury but they are essential given how heavy the traffic is. Mexico City ranks at 13th world wide for traffic congestion. In my experience, finding a bike lane was a pleasant, if somewhat unexpected surprise. Most of the time I rode amidst the heavy traffic along side, between and close to cars, weaving to move at a faster clip.
When traveling with family (who are yet to be persuaded about the merits of riding bikes in city traffic) I found myself in Ubers or taxis. Unlike my experience on the bike, we were always in traffic, which I then commandeered to practice my limited Spanish .The conversations went something like this.
“There is a lot of traffic.”
There is not only car traffic but many people making their way. While in the taxi when I looked across at the Durango metro bus stop and saw passengers waiting to board. There seem to be as many people on the bus as there are cars on the streets.
That said, the side streets are luxurious, peaceful and not congested. There is a mix of grand, classical buildings, decaying facades, green parks with flowers, and of course, dogs, every where dogs.
One other thing I did notice was that the air seemed a bit thick with fumes from cars, trucks and buses at times. Indeed, my phone reminded me that the air quality was at risk for sensitive populations. That didn’t stop me, or the cyclists of this fine city.
Note: I have had some luck stowing the Brompton the overhead but after one stern Australian bureaucrat made me run a security gauntlet a second time I opted for a bike case, thinking that now whenever I travel the bike comes with me as a checked bag. I know, it’s kind of boring but it takes the stress out of wondering if I am going to get through security.