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Say no to petroleum-powered vehicles - Make Mexico a better place!

[ Yes, entry written for my Mexican fellows. My blog is in English. Don’t rant about that, your pleads won’t be listened ] Damog just ranted (in Spanish) about too many people coming to Mexico City. I completely agree with him, but not with his conclusions. We are a ~25,000,000 people city, in a ~100,000,000 people country. The inequity we face every day is huge (Cd. Nezahualcóyotl, among the poorest in the city, is the most densely populated region in the whole world, but you can easily spot over 2000 sq mt houses in Bosques de las Lomas or similar regions - And the whole Santa Fé region just scares me, it is an unknown planet I don’t even want to think of). But what’s really terrible is how living in this city changes our collective moods. Sometimes it strikes me to understand how people in other countries can live in one town and work in another, over 40 minutes away. Well, for many years I worked at places over one hour away from home - and I didn’t even cross the city. Mexico City is, or was last time I checked, 40x70km, and without enough adequate main ways. Of course, people get grumpy and aggressive while driving. What’s my answer? Don’t drive. Seriously. Yesterday, for example, I chaired three talks at Linuxworld Mexico. In friggin’ Hipódromo de las Américas, a convention center located in one of the worst-connected pieces of land in Mexico. Usually, it would take me 40-90 minutes to get there by car, depending on the time of day and phase of Deimos against Fobos. Of course, it took me 70 minutes to go by metro+bus. I took two nice books (La región más transparente, a beautiful book by Carlos Fuentes no Mexico City inhabitant should skip, and Laurence Rosen’s Open Source Licensing). And I didn’t get bored, and I didn’t hate the people I was riding with. Even though I crossed the most crowded metro stations. Not only I saved a fair amount of money (MX$6.50 each way against probably something close to MX$120 between the gas and the parking fee of that unholy convention center), but I used my time much better. Some years ago, when I regularly travelled one hour back and forth to work, I learnt most of what I know today of Computer Science during the long time I spent sitting on small microbús seats. Not the most luxurious way of travelling, but still a very good way of moving around our messy city. Of course, today I have learnt even more, and I want to advocate it: don’t work far from your house, or at least, don’t work far from a place reachable by Metro. Sometimes it sounds impossible, but really… How much do you value your time? Do you think that it’s better to get MX$20,000 a month in a Santa Fé office than to get MX$15,000 in an office in Insurgentes? Do you think nobody will pay you decently if the offices are in Ermita Iztapalapa? Good work done brings a good salary. And seriously, the extra MX$5,000 in my first example is not worth the daily anger you will get by crossing the city to get to Nowhere Land and work for the corporate overlords. I might be extremely lucky, but I work 3Km away from home. I come by bike every day. And yes, I was scared at first - Even in Ciudad Universitaria people drive aggressively. You have to take care where you drive. Taxi drivers are among the worst, as they are always in a hurry. And, yes, my elbow has an ugly scratch, as I prefered to stop and fall off my bike than to land over a car whose driver was in a hurry. I’ve just had my bike for ~6 weeks (after over 10 years of not riding one, and back then, just for a bit), but I’m confident enough to get off the safety of a protected University with no cafres driving their microbús as they damn well please. Last weekend I had a ~6km drive (Copilco-Miguel Ángel de Quevedo-Loreto-Alta Vista-Copilco) using several high transit vialities (Universidad, Revolución, Insurgentes). I crossed three times the San Ángel bus hub, which scared my ass as I approached - But it’s perfectly doable, far easier than what I expected. It was fun. It is a decent excercise. And we need more people to take the streets with their bikes. This morning I heard on the radio that Marcelo Ebrard (Mexico City mayor) is pushing a plan to boost bycicle usage in the city. Something similar to what has been done inside Ciudad Univeritaria, but -of course- in a larger scale: Useful ciclovías along the main roads, city-owned bike rental places (where you can rent your bike at one and drop it at another spot), all this well connected to the main Metro stations. In this interview (in this morning’s 98.5 FM news program - sorry, I don’t know who heads it… Martín something IIRC) they said that today, ~0.7% of the trips outside home in Distrito Federal (where only 8 out of our 25 million people live) are carried out on bycicle, and they expect to raise it to 5% over the next six years. We will see about that, I can only wish this program best luck. Damog complains that we drive like shit because dealing with too many people for too long pisses us off - Ok, Damog, here is the recipe: Don’t get pissed off. Each of us will make a minor but tangible contribution. Don’t drive so much. Quit your job so far away, get a decent (even worse paid) job closer to your house, closer to the university. You will be happier. Get a bike. Use it, you live close to UNAM as well. You will be happier. And we will be one step closer to total world domination. (yes, we the bikers, not we the Debianers ;-) )


vicm3 2007-03-02 10:57:19

Well a good think

But not a doable one… You really are blesed to live near your work, but as for many of us is almost impossible… I had no car (well almost on my entire life) and can tell that I do one hour on company owned transport. Attempt to do your travel on peak ours on Metro-bus and I assure you won’t be happier… and reading only if seated… Well try that on Constitucion - Toreo RTP route and you’re fry… the bus is FULL and this is not figure speaking…

Worse, outside the IT community how many workers do you know that have the opportunity to choose the location of his work vs. The payment, also your case and Damog’s, don’t pay rent.

Try to buy a house on Mexico City… 1.5 Million MXN for 60 square meterers… and let me tell you, since end of 70’s INFONAVIT and all the builders left the city for laws and costs so there you have the explanation on why the people lives far away from where works… in fact exists a whole work on sociology about demographics, the estimates for the next 20 years are firgthening… you name it Mexico City + Puebla + Edo. Mex + Some others states… as a Megacity…

So the things are really starting…

Anyway… I will wish to ride a bike here on Iztapalapa, but that would send me to hospital, as for robbing the bike, last thime I read a guy got a shot on her leg to take out his bike! (a cheap one!).

Well I think better continue on my own blog… but the themes, overpopulation, migration, transport, dorm cities et al, are well know problems for sociology… the real problem is that there is no easy solution to any of them.