WALK21-XIII: Mexico City, Mexico
Step into the Future
30 Sep - 4 Oct, 2012
The conference in Mexico City had a very full agenda and was a productive time. In partnership with Embarqe we progressed interest and inspired a sense of the potential for Mexico and the region.
A list of 10 potential further collaborations were noted:
1. Extend the geographical reach of our message
Representatives in other states of Mexico were interested in being more supported and come together potentially as a learning network; be steered to invest in more practical projects that could demonstrate an effective return; and be beacons for best practice to other, more cautious, places.
2. Influence more sustainable growth with developers
We identified a difference between commissioning housing and delivering homes that people wanted to live in. Developers, and housing commissioners, should be urged to discuss the importance of including sustainable transport in the brief for new housing. This would help ensure accessibility isn’t just an option in design solutions.
3. Engage the auto industry
The car industry is continuing to grow in Mexico by approximately 30% per year. As the industry competes to address responsible use, more efficient models, alternative fuel systems and improve road safety we need to support their commitments to addressing these issues so that Mexico can be made cleaner, safer and greener in the future.
4. Expand the sustainable transport vision with the community and politicians
Mexico could embrace the car-fere city movement more significantly as a visual way of demonstrating what the City would be like without cars for a day; illustrate how it can continue to function with more reliance on walking, cycling and public transport; and provide media and politicians an opportunity to lend their personal support to an established high profile international programme.
5. Give people the Information to choose more sustainable transport options
There is an interest in providing real time journey information to help people in Mexico choose their transport mode more efficiently. A national, or Mexico City Journey Planner System paid for by either the federal or City government. By developing a single city map which layers walking, cycling, BRT, Metro, bus and train option data we could provide an accessible information system online and for mobile applications which could significantly improve the amount of sustainability choices people make for their everyday journeys. The system could also, subject to budget, be informed by real time congestion information to help plan the most efficient way of moving around the City and country.
6. Guide people through the safe, accessible and most attractive parts of the city
There are many pockets of walking design excellence in Mexico City but it was often disconnected, inconsistent and I was constantly reminded that for every safe feeling street there are others, often near by, which were not! A series of free neighbourhood walking maps for Mexico City for Centro Historico, Zona Rosa, Roma, Condessa, Polanco, Santa Fe and Coyoacan in the first instance could significantly help people understand the layout of the City’s streets; how to connect key destinations on foot; and, know where nearby services and facilities are that can enhance the quality of the journey experience.
7. Give people the confidence to get to know their City
City guides in the Historical downtown area could be a wonderful asset to the City if a team of like-minded friendly guides could be found. A team of walk leaders, recruited from businesses or the local communit, would become ambassadors for the City.
8. Initiate preventative health care as part of the sustainable transport agenda
In an increasing number of countries health and transport departments are recognising the benefit of collaboration to improve the efficiency of their programmes. In Mexico it is difficult however to find accurate information on levels of obesity, cardio vascular heart disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and draw any relationship with the amount of physical activity/sedentary behaviour being undertaken. The profile of health in the sustainable transport debate needs to be raised and a new synergy and interest from health authorities fostered to work with their colleagues in transport to encourage more walking and cycling.
9. Identify a network of safe, attractive and accessible streets
Despite seeing many pockets of brilliance, and examples of almost every type of investment to encourage more walking and cycling too much of the investment was fragmented and therefore frustratingly reducing the full potential of its impact to support more people to walk more often.
A network of Key Walking Routes in Mexico City which, focused on the 7 most walkable neighbourhoods, provide the best opportunities for continuous, connected and convenient journeys on foot. Using an established audit system that we have already built and used widely to ensure inclusive accessibility for as many people as possible whatever their ability we would evaluate the issues to address and work through Mexico City to coordinate the improvements. A network of ‘complete streets’ could then be designated and promoted as the key corridors for people to feel confident to walk and enjoy.
10. Promote time, distance and intermodality on the street
It was fantastic to see a practical wayfinding tool in the historic downtown area in Mexico City. The system is very well informed and is being delivered brilliantly but is benefiting only a couple of streets at the moment missing its full potential as a pedestrian wayfinding system to really help people walk around the City. There is an opportunity to extend the reach of the ‘Legible Mexico City’ system being used in the historic downtown to complement the 7 walkable neighbourhoods which we hope to map and complete streets in.
For all its chaos, earthquakes and gridlock Mexico City is still a wonderful place. Most of all however it is home to 26 million people who deserve it to be as accessible, safe and nice as it can be.