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Cycle Of Life: Bikers In Mexico Face Road Danger

Mexicans must learn that bicycles and cars share the roads. 

Biking has gained popularity in recent years, but not all places have the adequate infrastructure to practice it safely.

“It is a complete sport,” said Daniel Escalante Ruiz, who lives in the Mexican state of Veracruz and practices this sport.

As much as he loves biking, Escalante Ruiz understands it has some risks. “The greatest is to ride in short trips in any of Veracruz’s municipalities.”

As with many other urban sports, biking requires safety equipment. The use of a good helmet, special gloves and suitable shoes is recommended, even if they add to the cost of the sport.

It is important to practice biking with the right protective gear. Still, bikers consider it important for drivers to be more aware of their presence. (Carlos Ramírez/Café Words)

A good-quality bicycle usually provides a pleasant riding experience. The proper material will make the trip faster and as comfortable as possible. Aluminum bicycles are the best option, as they are light.

Those who ride often need to be able to clear obstacles in their way. Cyclists in Mexico have extra challenges: not all roads are safe, and some drivers don’t check for bikers.

“Often, the roads are not in good shape. … Bikers may take all the precautionary measures, such as using reflectors or having a vehicle guarding them. And yet, drivers might not respect bicycle caravans,” said Escalante Ruiz.

Buses and taxis usually drive fast and are not mindful of bicycles. The situation worsens for those who practice biking as a sport: Recreation areas do not have bike paths, and they have to ride on roads, making it a high-risk experience.

“The city is hazardous. The lack of road culture has caused serious accidents, with loss of lives, because drivers do not respect bikers.”

Many bikers complain that drivers make no effort not to hit them.

Family, friends and neighbors ended a vigil in honor of drummer and music teacher Kevin Clark by making some noise for bike safety.

“Although bikers go on the edge of a street or avenue, drivers hit them. The least harmful [accident] is when bikers fall and do not scratch themselves. But there are serious cases of drivers running over them,” said Escalante Ruiz.

Bikers’ most common injuries are fractures, contusions, knee ligament injuries and ankle sprains.

But some laws protect the rights of bikers. The Mexico City Mobility Law places them in the second top hierarchy among road users, just below pedestrians. It also guarantees that roads are adapted for pedestrian and biker use and bike lanes are built on new routes.

However, there is still a lot to do in terms of bikers’ rights.

Above all, Mexicans must understand that bicycles and cars share the roads.

“It’s a matter of raising awareness among the population that they should respect bikers,” said Escalante Ruiz.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos; edited by Fern Siegel)