Towards A More Pedestrian-Friendly Mexico City

The car-free lifestyle is still far from trendy in this city of 20 million people where most people still yearn for a car but can't afford one. Yet traffic and poor air quality are increasingly determinants in the nascent but growing culture of walking and biking, despite the inherent danger in doing either.

Those brave souls who opt to take Mexico City by foot face some of the most perilous streets in the world. An average of 9.4 out of every 100,000 inhabitants die in car accidents per year here, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. In 2006, 861 pedestrians died in car accidents.

The figure contrasts sharply with other megacities, like London (1.9 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 inhabitants), New York (2.2), Singapore (2.8), Hong Kong (3.8) and Bogota (4.1). Only Cape Town, South Africa has a higher rate than Mexico City with some 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the institute.But there is good news for walking enthusiasts. The ITDP is working directly with Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard to boost the lowly status of pedestrians and make major changes in the city's urban design.

"In general, Mexico City has a good infrastructure and sidewalks, but very bad crossing points where car drivers go too fast and that's what ends up being a big problem for pedestrians," Michael King, an ITDP consultant, told (Spanish link) the Mexican daily El Universal.

If they're improving crossings, we hope they'll knock down some of those harsh, concrete pedestrian bridges and build some aesthetically-pleasing ones that inspire the populace to take to the street on foot.:: Via El Universal

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