WikiLane – How Citizens Built their own Bicycle Network

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This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional), Italian

Mexico City’s government pledged in 2007 that it would build 300 km of bike lanes around the city by 2012. However, the city still only has 22.2 km because most money is allocated to car infrastructure, leaving aside non-motorized mobility. That’s why the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and the National Network for Urban Cycling (BiciRed) launched a campaign called ’5% for bicycles and pedestrians’, which asks national legislators to assign at least that percentage of the transportation budget to non-motorized infrastructure.

To promote that campaign and pressure legislators into action, several cycling and pedestrian organizations decided to paint their own bike lane in front of Congress on October 20th. This was our way of showing how little money and time is required to create quality infrastructure. We wanted to show that governments just need the will to promote non-motorized transport. However, that bike lane was efficiently erased just two days after it was painted, and no city official claimed responsibility.

We were all understandably angry, so we decided to do it all over again but better. We set a goal of painting a 5km bike lane that would end at Congress, the Wikicarril (wikilane). We funded our effort through Fondeadora, a crowd-sourcing site, and we managed to collect 13,500 pesos (about US$1,000) in just 4 days thanks to the collaboration of 37 generous supporters.

We bought paint, brushes and rollers. We built wood signs. We cut stencils. We borrowed a tricycle to carry everything. We invited everyone we knew and told them to come help. And on Sunday, November 6th, we were ready to start painting.

We worked in an assembly line. Some traced the priority triangles with tape and swept the ground to make sure it was clean. Another group painted the triangles green. There was another team that was in charge of white paint for the details and the PRIORITY legend. Others hung the signals in lamp posts. Some people moved up and down the street making sure each team had enough materials and bringing paint, stencils and water on their bikes. After each triangle was done we moved on bringing all the materials with us.

We were a large crowd of about 80 people, divided in teams all along the street. Cycling organizations joined in. Some people heard about it on Twitter and Facebook and met us there. Others brought their families.

It was very gratifying to see that the community welcomed our effort. Neighbors told us this was very much needed and that we should paint more. Some of the users along the route stopped and gave us moral support.

When we finally arrived to Congress, we got to repaint our efforts that had been erased. At that point, the police arrived for the first time. We talked to them for a bit, but, like every time we have have done this, we tell them we are just doing what government should be doing themselves.

After the police left us alone, we threw ourselves to paint the last priority triangle of the day. Of course, we were extremely tired in the end, but it was completely worth it.

We worked for 8 hours. We painted 5 kms. We spent less than 1000 dollars. How much would it cost to actually build the bicycle infrastructure the city needs?

Enjoyed this post? Read our new series – Urban Bicycle Networks and Sustainable Communities

  • Acentos perdidos

    Qué bueno, coño. Me enteré tarde. La próxima vez estoy con ustedes. Hay que coordinarse, somos muchos. Enhorabuena y un abrazo.

    acentosperdidos.blogspot.com

  • zelkovatrees

    ??? ??? ???? ??? ??? ??? ? ?? ????. ???? ????? ??? ??? ??? ??? ?????.

  • Stevedurrant

    This is a very inspiring do-it-yourself bike lane story. How difficult can it be?

    • Tagastelum

      How difficult can it be? Incredibly difficult, unfortunately. I’ve lived in Mexico City for two years and, as much as I applaud the gains made here for cyclists, in actuality it’s one step forward and two back. For more than a year, I’ve lived just three blocks from Ribera de San Cosme, just northwest of Mexico City’s Centro Histórico, and I only recently discovered that this wide avenue boasts a dedicated bike line. Why hadn’t I seen this earlier? Well, the itinerant vendors who not only block 2/3rds of the sidewalk space are also blocking the bike lane with their trucks, inventory and garbage. Their presence is illegal but tolerated by the municipal authorities. This embedded corruption, coupled with real poverty and ignorance, make it incredibly difficult to establish cycling infrastructure through guerilla means or otherwise. And where the government actually delivers  – as in the traffic-separated bike lane along Reforma — citizens ignore the rules: taxis and private cars block the lane and cyclists ride against traffic. We need infrastructure, but we also need enforcement and a culture of respect and citizenship. Until then, que será, será…

  • Mail

    This is amazing guys, good on you for making a positive impact on the world.

  • Lgramirez

    CLEAR THAT IF IT IS NECESSARY TO DO CICLOVIAS FOR THE WHOLE MEXICAN REPUBLIC, THAT WAY WE WOULD HAVE LESS CONTAMINATION, LESS TRAFFIC, ALSO THE SPORT AND A CULTURE IS PROMOTED OF PROMOTING THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE SPORT, THIS WE SHOULD DO ALL THAT GATHERED WE

     WANT A CICLOVIA IN OUR CITY, SINCE THEY GAVE US THE EXAMPLE OF WHICH WITH LITTLE MONEY THE CICLOVIA BELIEVES, AND NOT SINCE THEY TRY TO SPEND THE GOVERNMENT WITH THESE WORKS FORTUNES OF MONEY THAT THEY DO NOT VERIFY WHERE THEY WERE INVESTED ………. WE GO FOR MORE CILCOVIAS IN ALL OUR CITIES, FOR A BETTER WORLD!!!!!!

    LUIS RAMIREZ SANCHEZ
    CIUDADANO QUE VIVE EN ENSENADA B.CFA.MEXICO Y QUIERE CICLOVIAS

  • Lgramirez

    ¡¡CLARO QUE SI ES NECESARIO HACER CICLOVIAS PARA LA REPÚBLICA MEJICANA ENTERA, QUE CAMINO TENDRÍAMOS MENOS CONTAMINACIÓN, MENOS TRÁFICO, TAMBIÉN EL DEPORTE Y UNA CULTURA SON PROMOVIDOS DE PROMOVER EL AMBIENTE Y EL DEPORTE, ESTE DEBERÍAMOS HACER
     TODO QUE RECOLECTÓ QUE QUEREMOS un CICLOVIA EN NUESTRA CIUDAD, YA QUE ELLOS DIERON A EE.UU EL EJEMPLO DEL CUAL CON UN POCO DE DINERO CICLOVIA CREE, Y NO YA QUE ELLOS TRATAN DE GASTAR EL GOBIERNO CON ESTAS FORTUNAS DE TRABAJOS DEL DINERO QUE ELLOS NO VERIFICAN DONDE ELLOS FUERON INVERTIDOS ………. VAMOS PARA MÁS CILCOVIAS EN TODAS NUESTRAS CIUDADES, PARA UN MEJOR MUNDO!!!!!!

     LUIS RAMIREZ SANCHEZ
    CIUDADANO QUE VIVE EN ENSENADA B.CFA.MEXICO Y QUIERE CICLOVIAS

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenny-Heggem/1330893672 Kenny Heggem

    very inspiring. so needed, so inexpensive compared to auto infrastructure… yet with so much gains in return.

  • jobe

    AWESOME ! ! !

  • http://landofmeg.blogspot.com/ Megland

    Well done! This is an example of how a community can come together without waiting for sluggish governments to react to the urgent needs of its citizenry. Very inspiring stuff.

  • Karen R.

    Me da mucha alegria…. I’m so happy…. I’m Mexican & I live in NYC & there is this misconception that bikes are a waste of money and time for the infrastructure of the city…. I wish I would have been there to help!!… Thank You!!… ;0)

  • Almasarraga

    Hola! Soy de Puerto Rico y me da mucha alegría al ver tanta gente comprometida, dandole buen ejemplo al mundo. Lo mismo debemos hacer en PR. Exito! Alma

  • Koralewski G

    Im wondering, how many thousands of dollars such bikeline would cost if it was made by the city itself! Great job!

  • Chris F Bravo

    Muy inspirador, gracias chicos que nos muestran que puede hace rel colectivo! Gran conciencia urbana…

  • Cynthia

    Increileeeeeeee!!!!! que huevotes!!!!! eso son buenos mexicanos!!!! queremos más de esos!!!!!!!

  • Timurender1

    You are heroes for world peace.  I wish I was there.  KEEP GOING!!

  • Peter

    Well done you have saved some cyclist from accidents passing the message on to all I know ….Pete from England