It’s an eerily calm Sunday morning on the city’s Avenida Reforma, an avenue which is grid-locked on weekdays by tens of thousands of cars sitting bumper-to-bumper.
The Reforma’s closure to car traffic on Sundays in 2007 kickstarted the capital’s attempts to make life easier for cyclists. In 2010 a 17km-long bike lane through the city opened.
The car still reigns supreme in this metropolis of 22 million people, with more than four million vehicles clogging the roads every day.
Perhaps the biggest factor has been the launch of the so-called Ecobicis (Eco-bikes) in 2010. Following on from similar schemes operating in London, Paris and Barcelona, Mexico City launched a public bike rentals at 90 different sites. Since then, some 30,000 people have joined and there is a waiting list for new members. The Ecobici system is expected to expand to 75,000 users by the end of 2012, with 4,000 more bicycles made available at new sites.
The scheme is not without it’s critics with some of Mexico City’s drivers spending up to four hours a day on their journeys to work, with three separate rush-hours. Some say cyclists have only made matters worse.
One local radio host Angel Verdugo angered bike users when he called on car drivers to run over the cyclists. He said championing the new breed of cyclists was a form of racism. “They want to be like Europeans,” he says. “They believe they are living in Paris and riding along the Champs-Elysees.”
He subsequently made a public apology.
There’s no doubt that Mexico City is for the most part still a car-orientated city but it is also clear that cycling is in the ascendancy. More cycle ways are planned, and public opinion supporting active travel is growing. A car free city is, however, a long way off.
Middle-aged people are being urged to walk faster to help stay healthy, amid concern high levels of inactivity may be harming their health.
They are urging those between the ages of 40 and 60 to start doing regular brisk walks.
Just 10 minutes a day could have a major impact, reducing the risk of early death by 15%, they say.
But estimates show four out of every 10 40- to 60-year-olds do not even manage a brisk 10-minute walk each month.
An American study found that people who walked for at least four hours a week gained less weight (an average 9 lb less) than couch potatoes as they got older.
Last year, researchers at the University of Colorado found that regular walking helped to prevent peripheral artery disease (which impairs blood flow in the legs and causes leg pain in one-fifth of elderly people).
Walking can even prevent colds. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts medical school found that people who walked every day had 25 per cent fewer colds than those who were sedentary.
Because walking is a weight-bearing exercise, it can also help prevent the bone
Best of all, walking makes you feel good about yourself. “For people suffering from depression, walking three to four times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to enhance their mood
So next time you have 20 minutes to spare, put on your shoes and start your journey to better health.
Do you have (or NOT have) a path that you would like to improve in your community?
Maybe it would help you walk the kids to school or cycle to work or visit a friend? Maybe it’s somewhere that is just nice to walk. Read more to about FREE workshops on how to improve paths and about the possibility of finding other like-minded souls who’d also like to do this. Read the rest of this entry »