As he introduced Ecobici, a bike sharing service modelled on Vélib in Paris, Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who attended the failed Copenhagen Climate Conference at the end of last year, said people didn’t need to wait for a global commitment to care for the environment This spring Mexico City launched Ecobici, installing 1,100 bikes at 85 pick-up points throughout the centre of the city.
The mayor said during the first few weeks some 4,000 people had paid $24 for user cards, which swipe at a rack to release a bicycle for 30 minutes, and that some 50,000 trips had been made. Organisers hope to have signed up 24,000 people by the end of this year.
As one of the world’s most polluted and congested cities, Mexico City is determined to green itself. Ecobici is just part of a massive programme. The Mexican government, World Bank and the United Nations are funding a 15-year, $1 billion per year Plan Verde. The plan focuses on transportation issues. In addition to Ecobici, BRT (bus rapid transport) is being introduced, the underground railway will be improved and once a week cars will be banned from the roads.
The mayor’s office said that the plan is already working. The number of days with health-threatening pollution levels has dropped from 333 to 180 and areas with BRT had seen traffic accidents drop by 30 per cent.