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Monday, December 30, 2013

Mexican Bicycle Town Fights for Country's First Slow Zone | Copenhagenize

POLITICS VERSUS TRADITION: MEXICAN BICYCLE TOWN FIGHTS FOR COUNTRY’S FIRST SLOW ZONE.

Guest writer on Copenhagenize, Giovanni Zayas, is a founding member of Cholula en Bici and a junior partner in an architecture consulting firm.

It all starts at around 12:45 PM. A stream of mostly female cyclists starts flowing erratically from several cross-streets, weaving through downtown of the Mexican town of San Andrés Cholula in all directions. They are rushing to pick their kids up from the several schools located in this area. Most of their bicycles feature improvised small wooden seats fixed to the upper part of the frame, right where their children can grasp the handlebar while being protected by their mothers’ arms. However, it is when they are riding with their children when they seem the most vulnerable. In the middle of rush hour, they have to brave impatient speeding cars, distracted pedestrians and the many other cyclists that share the main road. This reality will soon change if the urban cycling collective Cholula en Bici succeeds in implementing Mexico’s first official slow zone. The campaign called Cholula Zona 30 would reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h through a redesign of the streets in a 5 km-wide perimeter in the center of San Andrés Cholula.

Cholula, located in the central state of Puebla, Mexico, is a municipality made up by three towns: San Andrés, San Pedro and the smaller Santa Isabel. Together they are part of the metropolitan area of the state capital, the city of Puebla, the fourth largest in the country. Famous for being home to the pyramid with the world’s largest base and a church on top, Cholula is one of the oldest living cities in the continent. Cholollan, the náhuatl word that the current name derives from, translates to “water that falls in the escape place”. It is a clear reference to the city’s ages-old role of accommodating several cultures throughout its existence.

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