15 February 2011

Bicycle Friendly University - UNAM Mexico City


It was a long-time coming this little film. It's about the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and how bicycle friendly the university is. I shot it when I visited Mexico City last year and spoke at UNAM's architecture faculty about promoting bicycle culture.

I figured I'd whip it together after reading James' article on The Urban Country about how McGill University in Montreal has banned bicycle riding on their campus.

After rolling my eyes and lamenting the lack of rationality at such an esteemed place of learning I revisted the footage from UNAM.

UNAM Library UNAM Mural
The main campus, by the way, is stunningly beautiful and is a World Heritage Site. The campus is largely car-free and as far back as 2004 they started a bike share programme called BiciPuma. It has since grown and the university has wonderful bicycle infrastructure all over the campus.

The university's bicycle friendly policy and resulting infrastructure and facilities are the yardstick by which all other universities should measure themselves. Bicycles mix easily with pedestrians and the bike lanes have priority when running through car parking areas. It's all calm and relaxed.

McGill's anti-bicycle policy is an embarrassment. It's another example of rules being written by people who don't ride bicycles and who haven't bothered to do their research into the subject. Instead choosing to ban bicycles based on personal perception of danger and risk assessment. We're used to that in cities, but this is a university...

Universities should be the first bastions of bicycle culture, not just because they are places of learning that often (not always) set examples, but also because they tend to be unique, autonomous zones in the position to dictate traffic rules and policies.

Golf carts could be traded in for three-wheeler cargo bikes for maintenance people to get around, bicycles could be made available for staff use and students who choose to ride a bicycle should be encouraged, embraced, thanked profusely and welcomed at their place of study.

Addendum: The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) just fired off this link to their Bicycle Friendly University programme, so I'd better include it here in a jiffy...

9 comments:

Louis M said...

McGill is not alone, I've visited Havard last summer and bikes are not allowed on the campus too. There are lots of bike rack at each gate of the campus but no bicycle can be seen further.

Lucas Jerzy Portela said...

oh!, and the Siqueiros and Orozco painels...

touching, realy.

Mikael, have you read "Hibrid Cultures: strategies to go inside and outside modernity"?!

It's a fundamental textbook for mastering in Literature and Culture in Brazil. Writen by the argentinian art-critics, Nestor Garcia Canclini, it compares the arousing of modernism, both in politics and art, from the popular culture, both in Brazil and Mexico.

Remembering that in Brazil, because of it`s extent and portuguese heritage, modernismo meant "cars" - in Mexico, not much so.

I efusevely recomend the reading. Don't know any english translations, though.

kfg said...

Upon achieving the dream of the alchemists, the artificial transmutation of one element into another, Cockcroft rushed across the Cambridge campus to deliver the news to Rutherford - by bicycle.

The mental image has always been one of my favorites and an icon in the use of appropriate technologies.

Gerard said...

Add Otago University (NZ) to the roll of shame in banning cycles within the campus. Courier vans & cars are allowed though!

Anonymous said...

Indeed, even UC Berkeley clamps down on student cyclists! This film is inspiring, though.

ATX Bikette said...

I wonder if part of the reason universities try to make cycling unattractive is because they can charge a premium of car parking. My freshman year a car permit cost $95. It went up every year after that. Bikes are still free to park, so loss of revenue.

kfg said...

At McGill it's $475 per term for garage parking or $140 per month for lot parking.

mary Westmacott said...

Beautiful Buildings, I wish i could cycle round there today, Instead of boston where its still bloody freezing!

Anonymous said...

muy bueno! didn't know all that. I see the video and i think here in argentina all that is really doable...most of the campus of main universities have space to built the infrastructure for bikes and it doesn't seem that it would cost a lot of money...pardon my english! saludos! Vero :)