Mexico’s burgeoning cities must learn from the mistakes of the capital to ensure they flourish in an orderly, sustainable and inclusive manner. Mobility is a priority and developing efficient mass transport systems will be the main challenge Mexico’s cities will face, panelists at the Mexico Infrastructure and Sustainability Summit 2017 agreed on Wednesday in Mexico City. “Mobility is an everyday thing,” remarked Enrique Villanueva, Development Director of Pulso Inmobiliario.

Marco Priego, Director of Urban Mobility at WRI Mexico and moderator of the panel during the event at the Hotel Sheraton Maria Isabel, opened the discussion with a personal anecdote. “I used to live in the State of Chihuahua and once wanted to buy a house. When I consulted the credit institution they told me that in addition to the house they would also give me a loan for a car. Why? Because despite how good the residential development was, it did not have the required mobility infrastructure,” he told the audience.

It will be key for real estate developers to plan access roads for their projects and hence contribute to a better integrated urban mobility construction, added Villanueva. “For us, mobility and accessibility to our projects are fundamental; we don’t conceive a development without identifiable access routes for our users.” He added that it is fundamental “for developers to work in an integrated manner with the authorities. The regulations must be very clear and understood” so that problems can be addressed multilaterally.

Erika Kulpa, Chief of Programming at the Ministry of Mobility, complemented Villanueva’s insight by focusing on mobility as a generalized issue for all citizens.  Emphasizing that most urban transport infrastructure is designed for cars, Kulpa stressed that “space is finite, we don’t have anywhere else to grow our streets, and yet, the population keeps growing. We have built cities designed for cars and not for people.”

When asked by moderator Priego if Mexico’s cities were winning the mobility battle, Alfonso Vélez, Director General of Autottraffic, said: “Historically we have fostered the use of automobiles as an aspirational means of transportation.” Vélez believes the issue of integrated mobility also involves a huge need for integrated information and data on the matter. “I believe we all need more information, not only about road traffic, but also in matters of transport and the importance of sustainable mobility in cities. It is very important for any project to provide data before and after its realization to really measure how mobility was impacted,” he told the audience, remarking on the importance of understanding how people move and if mobility is really improving.

“We really are lacking a measurement of the data before and after mobility projects,” Kulpa agreed. It is necessary, she said, to prove and “show to the people that we are truly providing quality public transportation,” especially given that “people want more, they are demanding more mobility infrastructure, like Eco-Bici stations, in their neighborhoods.”

Neighborhoods, agreed Villanueva, are demanding the mobility they want. “To perceive the city as a megacity is a mistake. I believe that a sustainable city is composed of many pole-centers that conform it. That is what must be achieved in terms of infrastructure,” he said. “We must build centers in which people want to live, with entertainment, education, work and residences. It is a very complex project, but we can start to create these in small zones and start making sense of the puzzle that is a big metropolis.”

Concluding the panel, Mexico City’s Undersecretary of Planning for the Ministry of Mobility Laura Ballesteros emphasized the importance of “securing the continuity of the projects, this is the key challenge that the ministry has,” especially given that any significant change will be gradual. “Seven Metrobús lines are not built in one day, we must strive for a continuous change,” she said.

 

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