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A photograph of Areli Carreón.
Image credit: BYCS and Areli Carreón.

BYCS interviews Areli Carreón, an activist & the bicycle mayor of Mexico City

Areli Carreón is a co-founder of Bicitekas, a bicycle nonprofit based in Mexico City. She is also a member of the BYCS Bicycle Mayor program. BYCS recently interviewed her and discussed Mexico City’s history, the work that Bicitekas does, and Mexico’s recent “right to mobility” amendment, which she helped push.

An excerpt from the interview:

Before COVID-19, road deaths were one of the principal causes of death in Mexico city as well as for young people and children in the whole of Mexico. In this process, we found out it was necessary to reform the constitution to make a bill that could not be challenged by companies or governments unwilling to comply.

It is such a large and complex process that many of our colleagues were initially unwilling to engage in it. It seems like an unattainable goal. For a law to be firm and to really protect the Mexican population this seemed like the only true option. So 2 years ago, we went for it, and it has been amazing to see how relatively fast it went and how successful we were in getting legislators from all parties involved and on board. One of the things that emerged from this opportunity was to engage with the angle of Mobility as a Right. Now, the right for a safe, mobility, efficient, accessible, equitable mobility is in our central constitution. I’ve been told we are the first and only country that has such a clause in its constitution.

One takeaway from the interview is how much of what Carreón, and Bicitekas as a whole, does is specific to the needs of Mexico City. She identifies unique challenges that the residents face, and she explains how bicycles fit into the solutions for those challenges. This illustrates how local leadership is critical for reforming mobility.

I briefly wrote about Mexico’s “right to mobility” amendment when it first hit the news. I don’t possess the expertise to deeply analyze this topic, but I will mention that bicycle related ballot measures are quite popular in the United States. This seems to align with Carreón’s experience of “how successful we were in getting legislators from all parties involved and on board.” Perhaps something similar happening in the US isn’t as unrealistic as it once seemed.

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