The first third of 2019 was marked by the inconveniences caused by the shortage and supply of gasoline in our country, and with this, it was inevitable to think about the mobility alternatives that exist within Mexico City. If you are one of the few people who has a private car, you may have been affected by the closure of fuel lines. Either in endless lines that seemed to be kilometers long 24 hours a day, or because of the traffic caused by these vehicular centipedes. In the midst of the chaos that managed to dissipate, it probably crossed your mind, what would happen if we reached a total shortage of gasoline?
Despite the insufferable traffic in which we can lose up to more than two hours in a single trip, only about 20 percent of the population of Mexico City has a private car, according to INEGI data collected last year. 80 percent of people travel by public transport, collective, bicycle, walking and other more sustainable alternatives. However, even though driving in this city means being in the midst of total road chaos, the number of cars is increasing every year.
Cities are complex beings that function as a living organism where avenues and streets form circulation and connection networks like the arteries and veins of the metropolis, so with each congestion the city begins to collapse little by little. According to INEGI data published in 2016 on the occasion of World Car Free Day, more than 5 million cars had been registered in Mexico City until then. In one of the most populous cities in the world with almost 22 million inhabitants, what would happen if each of them owned a car? Manuel Suárez Lastra, a member of the National System of Researchers, points out that if the number of cars continues to increase, how many more second floors would we need for the city to stay alive?
If we give up the car and decide to join the 80 percent of the population that uses public transport, could the city mobilize 100 percent of the population through its transport network? In cities like London, where measures have been implemented to eradicate car use, and Luxembourg, where public transport is completely free, inhabitants of all social strata use it. They do not do it because they have no other option but because these large cities have focused on optimizing their infrastructure to promote and reestablish the city as a great public space. Cities not only need to offer a transport network, but they must ensure that these mobility alternatives are adequate, efficient and, above all, worthy.
For example, in Mexico City bicycle lanes began to be incorporated on avenues such as Revolución and Patriotismo and in areas such as Roma, Condesa and Polanco. These mobility alternatives should be applied throughout the city and not only in certain areas where the inhabitants belong to a medium and high social stratum, in the end we all live in the city. The fact of only marking a lane destined for bicycles on the street does not guarantee that they will be used in this way. Although we do see that cyclists use these lanes, cars also invade them to pull over, stop and even park. The city could offer us all the options to move around within it, but we are the ones who give it life, so its functionality also depends on the good use we give it. If we have different possibilities of mobility, but these do not work in an optimal way, then people will continue to choose and yearn to have a car.
Modern cities were designed for cars and the inhabitants took a backseat. The streets are built for the circulation of vehicles and not for the population to live in. If we really aspire to other mobility alternatives within Mexico City, it must be rethought and redesigned to be a more humane city.