As part of Mexico City’s continued shift toward improving its non-motorized transit, the city recently redesigned Avenue 16 de Septiembre into a mixed traffic, or ‘pedestrian priority’ street. By implementing advanced traffic calming measures, the street now promotes shared used by all forms of transit, including pedestrians, cyclists, and cars. The pedestrian priority design provides greater security, mobility, and accessibility for city residents. Jesus Sanchez, an ITDP non-motorized transit specialist, advised local authorities on the redesign.
The newly reopened roadway features a number of pro-pedestrian measures. The area for mixed use traffic has been greatly reduced, making room for expanded sidewalks, trees, and benches. Vehicular traffic is permitted at significantly reduced speeds, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to safely and comfortably occupy the street as well. The road is now level with the sidewalk, separated by bollards, which provides greater accessibility and permeability for pedestrian traffic. The updates to the streets design align with ITDP’s road hierarchy, which puts pedestrians first. The redesign improves road safety, promotes the equitable sharing of space, and aids economic development.
The project is one of 14 included in Mexico City’s 2013-2018 Plan for the Historic Center, and compliments several additional pedestrianized streets in the vicinity. The changes to the street were implemented over approximately seven weeks, and will effect some 150,000 pedestrians daily. In recent years, Mexico City has won plaudits for its impressive revitalization of the Historic Center. Along with many other pedestrianized streets, the city has added numerous bike lanes and brought the Metrobús BRT to the Historic Center. All these projects have increased mobility, accessibility, and livability in the heart of Mexico City.
Traffic calming measures like those used on 16 de Septiembre are good for city residents. Accessible streets make roads safer for children, disabled and elderly. More foot traffic means more business for store owners. And more pedestrian space shows that the city belongs to everyone, not just those in cars. These solutions can be replicated across the city and the world to increase access to schools, markets, hospitals and especially housing.
16 de Septiembre is a true example of designing streets for people, not cars. Cities that use their budget and political will for pedestrians are cities that are committed to improving quality of life for their residents, and Mexico City is once again showing that it is creating space for all its citizens to work and play.