Trading Cars for Bikes: 1 Way Cities Are Improving Health

COVID-19’s disruption of day-to-day living uncovered valuable insights into what people need and want from the cities they call home.

These needs became quickly apparent: a more community-focused approach to communications; access to nutritious food; a responsive social safety net; and—for a long list of traditionally car-focused cities like Mexico City—walkable and cycle-friendly neighborhoods. Out of the largest public health crisis in a century came a greater sense that public health should be part of the built environment.

Over the last 25 years, Mexico has been faced with the daunting challenge of reducing road deaths, with annual casualties averaging 15,000 roadway deaths per year. Roadways had traditionally catered more to cars than pedestrians, leaving fewer alternatives to navigate the nation’s capital. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum sought to change this by adopting a citywide road safety action plan in 2021. This program launched an emerging bike path on Insurgentes Avenue, the most important North-South corridor in the capital, facilitating a 275% increase in cyclists. This year, Mexico City aims to build an additional 40 kilometers (25 miles) of cycling infrastructure and schedule bike ride events and cycling trips for schools.

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