Guadalajara may boast a network of handsome bike lanes and an inexpensive and well-run public bike rental system, but a recent survey by World Resources Institute Mexico reveals that many potential users, even those who venture out every Sunday for the well established and popular Via Recreativa, lack the confidence to carry out their daily activities on two wheels.
This survey showed that 60 percent of the population of the area would be willing to jettison their current mode of daily transportation in favor of bicycling if they were convinced that the city’s cycling infrastructure were safe.
One hotspot illustrating the dangers is on Avenida Lopez Cotilla where the busy, one-way street forms a three-way intersection with Moscu and the diagonal Prisciliano Sanchez. Lopez Cotilla, dramatically upgraded in 2015 with topes (speed bumps), graceful planters and protected bike lanes, is leafy, lovely—and heavily trafficked by cars, bicycles, motorcycles and buses.
From their veterinary clinic, Carlos Martinez and Ana Garcia have the perfect vantage point for observing the purgatory attached to this apparent cyclist’s paradise, as bikes whiz along at high velocity in a protected lane, while cars, motorcycles and buses are constrained by the speed bumps.
“At least three times a day, something happens,” explained Garcia, after dashing out from her clinic to offer comfort and first aid to a burly, downed bicyclist, who limped off after colliding with a car that had veered right off Lopez Cotilla and cut him off.
“There is not always a collision,” explained her husband, Martinez. “Sometimes just yelling. But it happens more like five times a day.”
“Once a bicyclist broke his leg, and it was a very ugly break,” Garcia explained.
“Our son improvised a danger sign and put it on the bicycle lane, and it helped until it fell apart. And a neighbor had us sign a petition and she took it to [the state agency] Vialidad. They came out and repainted some of the topes, because cars and motorcycles didn’t see them, but now the paint has faded again.”
Tania Zavala, the director of the Movilidad y Transporte (Mobility and Transport) Department of Guadalajara, explained that the city has received a $US100,000 grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies for marking, maintaining and amplifying the bike lanes and that the new discoveries about negative public perception of bike lane safety will spur improvements.