Late last month, nine cities across Mexico held a challenge. In a competition to highlight the importance of non-motorized transit, several cycling groups and civil society organizations held the Modal Challenge, an event comparing travel times between several transport modes as they crossed the city. In each city, participants raced using walking, cycling, e-biking, public transit, motorcycles, and personal vehicles. The event was part of a larger campaign, led by cycling advocates BICIRED, emphasizing the need for more public resources devoted to building sustainable and equitable cities.
In Mexico City, Modal Challenge participants tested a 10km route, equivalent to the average distance traveled in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area. Starting at 8:00 in the morning, fifteen volunteers navigated through rush hour traffic to the Legislative Assembly building, where organizers recorded their arrival times. The first three to finish all arrived by bike. In fact, in five out of nine cities, bicycles emerged as the winners. The results underscore the efficiency of cycling, and the importance of providing enough safe, integrated infrastructure to allow more residents to choose to bike.
The Modal Challenge is part of a campaign run by cycling advocates BICIRED aimed at encouraging the Ministries of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) and Agriculture, Land, and Urban Development (SEDATU) to allocate more resources to non motorized infrastructure. This year, the Ministry of Finance, for the first time, included the a new program (PMUS) dedicated to funding the design and implementation of sustainable mobility projects around the country. Building off this success, the Modal Challenge and larger campaign are encouraging the federal government to follow through on this promise and create a robust plan to increase funding and implementation of infrastructure for non-motorized transport.
The Modal Challenge generated awareness among the public, too, calling media attention to the efficiency of biking and the role is can play in the city. Competition participants could use any route to reach the destination, but were required to comply traffic regulations at all times. The event joins a range of campaigns using tactical urbanism and social media to raise the profile of low-carbon transport in Mexico City and secure strong political support for reshaping the city to be safe and attractive for all.
A version of this article appeared on the ITDP Mexico website, here.