In a groundbreaking move for national road safety policy, Mexico has elevated to their constitution a universal right to safe mobility. On October 14, the country’s Chamber of Deputies unanimously voted in favor of adding an amendment to Mexico’s constitution: “Every person has the right to mobility under conditions of safety, accessibility, efficiency, sustainability, quality, inclusion and equality.” And on October 30, Querétaro became the 17th out of 32 states to unanimously ratify the change in its local congress, reaching a majority. The change was already approved by the Senate in December 2019.
I’m not an expert on law or politics, much less of the politics of Mexico, but this feels like a big deal. A “right to mobility” seems like something that the modern world needs to recognize. Without it, we have governments dividing communities with dangerous interstate projects and creating “pay to play,” car-centric, transportation systems.
I can only comment on Mexico’s amendment based on Hidalgo’s report, but one detail that struck me was how much the issues of traffic violence and death played into the amendment’s passage.
Cycling NGOs have made up a fundamental pillar of support, reacting to the country’s multiple cyclist fatalities in recent years, including that of Emmanuel Vara Zenteno, “Manu”, a cyclist and activist who was run over by a bus driver in November 2018. Zenteno was the director of mobility management in the city of Puebla at the time. Areli Carreón, a cycling and road safety activist and one of the most vocal advocates for the amendment, posted a striking photo thread on Twitter of cyclists who had died in recent road crashes during the October congressional session. Carreón’s organization, Bicitekas, added, “They are not statistics; they are people we love. An homage to victims and all the recognition to their families; together for the #RightToMobility.”
Here in the United States, we disagree on a lot of things, including amendments and legal rights, but I think safety is a winning argument on all sides. Once we stop ignoring how deadly our transportation system is, it’s hard to not want to do something about it. And as we saw in this year’s election, bicycle related ballot measures are quite popular.