Mar 132014
 

Having noted in previous posts that farm sizes in southern Mexico are smaller (on average) than in northern Mexico, and that farm size is affected by socio-economic factors, and that farmers of smallholdings are unable to generate a decent profit, it is interesting to consider the relationship between farm size and marginalization.

Mexico’s National Population Commission (Conapo) has formulated a compound indicator of “marginalization” and publishes its “marginalization index” at regular intervals. Data are available at both the state and the municipal level for the entire country. This discussion relies on the state level data.

Scatter graph showing average farm size and marginalization index

Scatter graph showing average farm size and marginalization index. Data: INEGI, Conapo. Credit: Geo-Mexico

Each dot on this scatter plot represents a state. For the 32 points, the statistical correlation (Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient) is –0.483. This negative correlation (significant at the 95% level) means that marginalization is inversely associated with farm size  (i.e. the greater the marginalization, the smaller the likely farm size).

In short, the north-south divide that we found when looking at the pattern of farm sizes in Mexico is closely linked to the north-south economic divide that characterizes the country.

Related posts:

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural crops and oranges. Also worth reading are:

US Airways customer service redefines the geography of North America

 Other  Comments Off on US Airways customer service redefines the geography of North America
Mar 102014
 

According to a US Airways customer service agent in Phoenix, “US Airways does not charge for the first checked bag on international flights. Flights from the US to Mexico and Canada are NOT considered international flights because they do not cross water.”

This statement was made in response to a query regarding a charge of US$25.00 for a single checked bag on a flight from Guadalajara to Phoenix, following a Geo-Mexico fact-finding trip to Jalisco.

Hmm… does this mean no passports required? Does this mean that Canada, the USA and Mexico share a common currency, language and government. Me thinks not!

Defining “international” as requiring the crossing of water actually gave me a vivid flashback to my early days teaching in the Caribbean, where I discovered, to my great surprise, that some students had a similar idea. Because they knew that different Caribbean islands were (generally) different countries, they assumed that all countries were islands. In one extreme case, a student colored the political boundaries between all the countries of South America blue, justifying this by saying that each country was an island and must have water separating it from the next country!

Fortunately, the customer service agent’s interpretation of international is not echoed by the airline’s own webpage about Baggage Policies. In the circumstances, perhaps US Airways should consider upgrading its training programs for its customer service staff. Geo-Mexico would be pleased to assist.

Related post:

 Posted by at 6:39 am  Tagged with:
Mar 082014
 

Bananas are the world’s fourth most important dietary staple after rice, wheat and corn (maize). They are a major source of nutrition (low in fat, but rich in potassium and vitamins A, B, C and G) for people living in tropical areas. Of the 80 million tons of bananas produced globally each year, less than 20% enters international trade; the remainder is eaten locally. Bananas that are ripe and eaten raw are called desert bananas; those that are cooked are called plantains.

India is the world’s largest banana producer (31% of the world total) but is not an important exporter. Other leading producers include China (10%) and the Philippines (9%). Mexico (2%) is the world’s tenth largest producer, and the world’s 13th largest exporter. The world’s leading exporters of bananas (in dollar terms) are Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia and the Philippines.

How did bananas reach Mexico?

The banana plant is thought to have originated in southern Asia, possibly in the Mekong Delta area. Though the details are sketchy, banana plants were carried from there to Indonesia, Borneo, Philippines and Pacific Islands, including Hawaii. By AD650, bananas had reached Egypt and the Mediterranean coast. In the fiteenth century, Portuguese navigators and slave traders carried bananas to the Canary Islands. By the early sixteenth century, bananas had been introduced by Spanish missionaries to Santo Domingo on the island of Hispaniola in the “New World”.

Bananas reached Mexico for the first time in 1554 when Bishop Vasco de Quiroga (the first Bishop of Michoacán), returning from Europe, brought some plants back with him from his short layover in Santo Domingo.

FAO statistics for the past few years show that Mexico has about 75,000 ha planted with bananas. Total production is close to 2.2 million metric tons a year, giving an average yield of about 30 metric tons/ha. The yield is trending slowly upwards. The yield under irrigation (38.3 tons/ha) is 55% higher than that from rainfed farms. As a result, while irrigated farms account for just under 40% of the total acreage of bananas, they supply 50% of total production. Commercial banana growing provides about 100,000 direct jobs in Mexico and 150,000 indirect jobs.

Mexico's banana-growing states

Mexico’s banana-growing states [corrected]

The main banana producing states (see map) in Mexico are:

  • Chiapas (35% of national production), especially the municipality of Tapachula
  • Tabasco (25%), where average price per metric ton is lower. Mexico’s largest banana exporting company, San Carlos Tropical Exports, is based in Tabasco.
  • Veracruz (13%), especially in the municipalities of Martínez de la Torre, Atzalán, Tlapacoyán, Nautla and Papantla
  • Michoacán and Colima (6.5% each)

Bananas are also grown, on a smaller scale, in Jalisco (4.5%), Guerrero and Oaxaca (3% each) and Nayarit (2%).

Maps showing banana cultivation areas in individual states can be generated via SIAP, the Agriculture Secretariat’s online database system.

Trade in bananas

The world’s major importers are the USA (bananas are the single most widely eaten fruit in that country), Germany, Japan, Russia, UK, Italy, France, Sweden and China.

Bananas were first introduced into US diets (from Cuba) in the early 19th century. The earliest large-scale shipments of bananas to the USA were from Jamaica in the 1870s, and were organized by Lorenzo Dow Baker, who later founded the Boston Fruit Company, which later became the United Fruit Company, now Chiquita Brands International.

Banana exports from Mexico have risen rapidly in recent years and reached 307,000 metric tons in 2012 (compared to 60,000 tons in 2005), worth about 140 million dollars. The USA is the world’s largest importer of bananas and Mexico’s main foreign market, receiving 80% of all exports of Mexican bananas.

Source for history of bananas:

  • Jenkins, Virginia S. Bananas: An American History. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 2000

Other posts related to agricultural products:

Mar 062014
 

In The market for commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico, we looked at a recent snapshot of the industrial real estate market in the last quarter of 2013, and saw how cities in the Bajío Region were outpacing cities in Central Mexico or Northern Mexico. (The snapshot came from the report ‘Industrial Markets in México (Q4 2013)‘ by Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm.)

In this post, we take a look at the “Industrial Property Clock” for the same period, from the same report.

Industrial property clock (Jones Lang LaSalle)

Industrial property clock (Jones Lang LaSalle)

In general, cities in Central Mexico and in the Bajío are well “ahead” of cities in northern Mexico on this clock. The analysis by Jones Lang LaSalle suggests that the commercial and industrial property markets in Mexico City, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, San Luis Potosí, Puebla and Toluca are “peaking”. The two remaining cities in the Bahío (Querétaro and Aguascalientes) are joined by several cities in northern Mexico in the “rising market” portion of the graph, while Reynosa, Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Chihuahua are anchored in the “bottoming market” portion.

The following quotes are taken from the report:

Mexico City’s industrial market grows its footprint annually; rents have grown to pre-crisis levels

Puebla market is very tight; land is scarce and vacancy is at a low

Toluca market has been growing as an alternative to Mexico City, it is also attracting local businesses

Guanajuato is growing in several submarkets like Silao and Celaya thanks to car manufacturing and food related businesses

Guadalajara keeps occupying space and growing at El Salto and South Periférico

San Luis Potosí keeps attracting new industries related to consumer goods. The car manufacturing industry is taking advantage of the city’s communications and infrastructure

Querétaro has been active inaugurating new developments near the airport both for the aerospace business and for car manufacturing. These industries have taken advantage of the local educated labor force

Aguascalientes seems to be the new frontier for developers: at least three major national developers have inaugurated parks in this market, one of them is Nissan’s supplier park

Tijuana continues its path towards quickly becoming a speculative development marketplace once again. It is the first border city to regain this business climate

Nogales, the smallest of the Northwest Border region cities, is also enjoying the expansion of Kimberly Clark (KCI) leasing vacant space within the Nuevo Nogales Industrial Park

Ciudad Juárez keeps lowering the existing vacancy rate

Monterrey submarkets have been improving, especially Apodaca and Santa Catarina, where land prices and rents are growing

Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros have seen a slow down in their activities, however, tenants have stayed at their buildings; there are no new developments on the horizon and vacancy rates are around 10%

Related posts:

The number of small farms in Mexico is growing

 Excerpts from Geo-Mexico, Updates to Geo-Mexico  Comments Off on The number of small farms in Mexico is growing
Mar 032014
 

The uneven distribution of farmland in Mexico was one of the fundamental causes of the Mexican Revolution in 1910, but by no means the only one. Landless campesinos (peasant farmers) lacked any way to control their own supplies of food. Revolutionary leaders called for the expropriation of the large estates or haciendas, which had been the principal means of agricultural production since colonial times, and the redistribution of land among the rural poor. A law governing this radical change in the land tenure system came into force in 1917 and the process has continued, albeit sporadically, into modern times.

About half of all cultivated land in Mexico was converted from large estates into ejidos, a form of collective farming. In most ejidos, each individual ejidatario has the rights to use between 4 and 20 hectares (10-50 acres) of land, depending on soil quality and whether or not it is irrigated. In addition, members of the ejido share collective rights over the use of local pasture and woodland.

By 1970 land redistribution had been more or less completed. Even so, most farming land still remained in the hands of a very small minority of farmers (Figure 15.2). Only 1% of farms were larger than 5000 hectares (12,355 acres) but between them they shared 47% of all farm land. Meanwhile, 66% of farms were smaller than 10 hectares (25 acres) yet they shared only 2% of all farm land.

Have things improved since then?

The 2007 farm census (see graphic) revealed that two-thirds (66.4%) of all farms are under 5 hectares (12.4 acres) in area; this percentage has remained roughly the same over the past 40 years. Between them, they farm just 6.2% of Mexico’s total farmland.

The number and size of farms, 2007

The number and size of farms, 2007 (updated Figure 15.2 of Geo-Mexico). Data: INEGI. Credit: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico

The number of small farms has increased since 1970, but so has the total number of farms. Between 1991 and 2007, there was a 55.2% increase in the number of farms under 2 hectares in area, and a 45.4% increase in the total area they worked.

There is no solid data for why the number of microfarms has increased, but it may be partially explained by larger farms being split into smaller pieces (one for each family member) following the death of their original owner.

Most tiny farms are likely to be family-run, producing crops largely for subsistence, rather than for market. Small plots of land are likely to prove uneconomic and unsustainable to farm; it is impossible to generate sufficient profit from them for a family to enjoy a decent livelihood.

In one study, Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, writing for Financiera Rural, calculated that a typical smallholding of 5 hectares, planted with corn (maize) could generate a profit for the owner of about $4000 pesos. This profit represents 6 months work. At the time of his study, someone earning minimum wage for the same six months would have received a total of almost $10,000 pesos. The precise numbers vary, depending on average yields and the crops planted, but cultivating a smallholding is obviously not an easy way to make a living.

These same farmers are unable to advance since they have no means of accessing credit, having no suitable assets to offer as collateral, even if they could ever afford to pay the interest! Similarly, they do not have the savings to invest in improved equipment, higher cost seeds or to introduce new techniques or technology. They are, essentially, trapped in a cycle of poverty.

At the other end of the scale, a very small percentage of farms in Mexico are very large indeed. Nationwide, 2.2% of farms account for 65.1% of the total area farmed in the country. Larger farms are commercial operations, sometimes multinational operations. Their size and profitability ensures they have ready access to credit, and can adopt new technologies and methods relatively quickly.

The uneven distribution of land in Mexico clearly remains an issue, one that is likely to impact social justice agricultural output and productivity for decades to come.

Related posts:

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural crops and oranges. Also worth reading are:

The market for commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico

 Mexico's geography in the Press, Other  Comments Off on The market for commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico
Mar 012014
 

A recent snapshot of the industrial real estate market in the last quarter of 2013 compares progress in three industrial regions in Mexico: Northern Mexico, Central Mexico and the Bajío Region. The snapshot comes from the report ‘Industrial Markets in México (Q4 2013)‘ by Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate services firm specializing in commercial property management, leasing, and investment management.

Cities included in industrial real estate study

Cities included in industrial real estate study (Jones Lang LaSalle)

The pattern of commercial and industrial real estate in Mexico

The five main cities of the Bajío Region (Aguascalientes, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí) are booming in terms of commercial and industrial real estate. In the final quarter of 2013, the region added about 550,000 m2 of commercial and industrial space. This was more than double the additional space added in Central Mexico (Mexico City, Toluca and Puebla) and close to the total amount (614,000 m2) spread between 10 cities in northern Mexico (see map).

In the North Region, “Tijuana has been occupying vacant space… and Ciudad Juárez is on its way to recovering from low rents and high vacancy”, while the automotive sector is driving growth in Saltillo-Ramos Arizpe.

The Central Region is helped “by third party logistics companies that grow their business and footprint in Mexico City’s surroundings”, while “Toluca and Puebla grew mainly because of the car manufacturing demand for space.” Commercial rents rose in Mexico City and in Toluca. “Big Box requirements keep driving this market. Development has been very active at the Tepotzotlán toll booth surroundings.”

The Bajío Region has consolidated “with new industrial parks related not only to the new car manufacturing plants, but also for new investments related to aerospace, food and personal consumer” products.

Related posts:

The finances of Mexico’s Knights Templar drugs cartel

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on The finances of Mexico’s Knights Templar drugs cartel
Feb 272014
 

A series of press reports over the past six months has shed interesting light on the variety of ways in which the Knights Templar cartel raises funding and manages its finances. The Knights Templar stronghold is the city of Apatzingan in Michoacán, but the cartel now operates in several states, including Guerrero.

Raising money:

1. Citrus and avocado production and exports

In January 2013, Alberto Galindo, spokesman for the Plan de Ayala National Movement, one of the largest organizations of Mexican farmers, claimed in a press interview that Mexico’s avocado farmers “have data that prove that 225 million pesos [17 million dollars] is the amount extorted by the drug cartels in Michoacán” each year. Citrus growers are also subject to regular extortion by the Knights Templar. We reported on avocado “protection money” back in 2012, and on the plight of citrus farmers in 2011.

2. Iron ore mining and exports

The Knights Templar levy “passage fees” on every ton of iron ore leaving mines in Michoacán for the port of Lázaro Cárdenas. In addition, they are alleged to have confiscated shipments of iron ore and then exported it themselves. They are also alleged to have funded illegal mining operations where iron ore is mined without the requisite environmental permits.

In response, the Mexican government has tightened the regulations for iron ore exports, which now require exporters to demonstrate that all ore being shipped has been mined legally. The main market for Michoacán iron ore is China. It is no coincidence that ore exports to China have quadrupled in the past 5 years. The federal government also ordered the military to take over the administration of the port of Lázaro Cárdenas to put an end to corrupt practices and sever this major source of funding for the Knights Templar.

The discussion related to cartel financing via iron ore exports has implicated several transnational firms who are said to have paid the Knights Templar to allow iron ore shipments from their mines to the port. Michoacán supplies about 25% of all the iron ore mined in Mexico, and about 1 million ha (almost 20% of the state) have been given in concession to transnational mining firms such as Mittal Steel, Ternium (Italy-Argenina), Minera del Norte (a subsidiary of AHMSA) and Pacific Coast Minerals.

Claims, such as those reported here and here, that Minera del Norte paid the Knights Templar $2 dollars/ton to move 10,000 tons of iron ore a week from its four mines in the Tepacaltepec region, have been categorically denied recently by the company’s Communications and Public Relations Director, Francisco Orduña Mangiola. In an e-mail to Geo-Mexico, Orduña writes that his company “has never paid any amount of money to criminals”. He points out that, “On the contrary, it was precisely our Company that denounced the illegal operations of criminal groups in iron ore deposits owned by our company and other companies in the area, from which those groups extracted iron ore that was subsequently exported illegally to China. It was reported to federal, state and military authorities… and this action ultimately resulted in the confiscation of large amounts of illegal minerals in the ports of Lázaro Cardenas and Manzanillo. It is important to say that our company does not export iron ore, and that the lump iron ore extracted in mines located in the Pacific Coast is sent by railway directly to Monclova, Coahuila, and used as a raw material in our steel facilities.”

3. Port traffic and operations

A levy of up to 10% on goods passing through the port of Lázaro Cárdenas.

4. Miscellaneous money laundering activities

Purchase and sale of property, vehicles, cattle, textiles (imported from China and sold in Guanajuato after being relabelled with major brand names), truck tires, etc.

5. Extortion payments

Extortion payments received from truck drivers, gas stations, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, pharmacies, car lots, and even direct from municipalities (in exchange for “permitting” municipal works related to drainage, street lighting, paving). The rise of self defense groups was partially due to citizens’ outrage at the various extortion payments demanded by the Knights Templar.

6. Shipments and sales of drugs (as far away as California and Texas), many of them supplied via the port of Lázaro Cárdenas.

Summary of Knights Templar income from illegal activities [dollars a month]

  • drugs, weapons, kidnapping, pirated items, vehicle thefts, etc: $2.8 million
  • extortion rackets, $1 million
  • extortion of municipalities, $1.1 million
  • investments in real estate, vehicles, textiles, electronic items, etc., $1.3 million

The port of Lázaro Cárdenas was key to the Knights Templar financial plans, and effectively served as the cartel’s “gigantic central bank”, capable of supplying an endless stream of funds to the cartel. It remains to be seen how effectively the government decision to put the military in charge of administering the port will destroy the ability of the Knights Templar to raise funds to support their illegal activities.

Where does all this money go?

Part of it goes on bribing officials. According to an investigation published in Milenio, a national daily, the Knights Templar cartel is believed to spend $2 million a month in bribing officials in the state of Michoacán, and a further $400,000 a month in other states. The Milenio articles (here and here) were based on an official intelligence report that their journalists were given access to for a few hours.

Sample payments made to officials range from up to $26,000 a month to a federal police commander in an important city to $19,000 a month to officials in the prosecutor’s office and $18,000 a month to a state police commander. Officials in smaller cities and local administrations are paid less.

Recipients of drug cartel money also include journalists, with some print journalists receiving $3,000 a month and payments of about $2000 a month to a TV executive.

Related posts (chronological order):

The pattern of farm sizes in Mexico: is there a north-south divide?

 Other  Comments Off on The pattern of farm sizes in Mexico: is there a north-south divide?
Feb 242014
 

In 2007, INEGI census recorded 2.4 million “units of production” (farms) under 2 hectares in size. This number is 43.5% of all farms, and includes farms not being actively worked. 22.9% of farms were between 2 and 5 hectares in area and a further 23.4% between 5 and 20 hectares. In sum, almost 90% of all farms had an area of 20 hectares or less. At the other end of the size spectrum, 2.2% of farms were larger than 100 hectares.

In terms of land tenure, 68.5% of all farms were in ejidos (a form of collective farming), 28.5% held privately and the remaining 3% were other (communal, public, mixed). Almost three-quarters of all farms under 20 hectares in area are ejidos, whereas about three-quarters of all farms over 100 hectares in size are private.

Map of average farm size in Mexico, by state, 2007

Map of average farm size in Mexico, by state, 2007. Data: INEGI. Credit: Tony Burton/Geo-Mexico

The choropleth map (above) shows the average size of farms (in hectares) by state. It is very clear that larger farms are concentrated in northern Mexico. All the states along the US border have average farm sizes in excess of 100 hectares. At the other extreme, a ring of states in central Mexico (centered on the Federal District) have average farm sizes that are below 5 hectares. The average farm size is slightly larger to the south of that ring of tiny farms, and significantly larger towards the east, including those states comprising the Yucatán Peninsula.

The general pattern is of a north-south division, which becomes even clearer when the average farm sizes are plotted as an isoline map. With minor exceptions, the “surface” represented by these isolines slopes steeply away form the highest values in north-western Mexico towards the south-east.

Average farm size in Mexico

Average farm size in Mexico. Data: INEGI Credit: Tony Burton / Geo-Mexico

Classroom exercise

Having recognized this pattern in farm sizes, can you think of reasons that might explain it? The short answer is that farm sizes vary in response to a multitude of factors, These include historical, demographic, and socioeconomic factors as well as relief, climate, natural vegetation and soils.

Q1. Compare the maps in this post with maps for some of the factors you think might be important. (Try our Geo-Mexico Map Index as a starting point). For example, the northern area of Mexico, the area with largest farms, is primarily semi-arid or arid. Why might farms in arid and semi-arid areas be larger than in other areas?

Q2. Have a class discussion about the relative importance of the factors that have been identified or suggested.

Q3. Discuss the relative merits of the two mapping methods used in this post (choropleth and isoline) to portray average farm sizes.

Related posts:

Geo-Mexico has many other agriculture-related posts (easily found via our tag system). They include posts about the geography of growing/producing Christmas trees, cacao, honey, sugarcane, coffee, chiles, floriculture, tomatoes, tequila, horticultural cropsand oranges. Also worth reading are:

Mexico and US agree to work together to fight trans-border wildfires

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Mexico and US agree to work together to fight trans-border wildfires
Feb 222014
 

Mexico’s National Forestry Commission (Comisión Nacional Forestal, Conafor) and the US Forest Service have signed an agreement aimed to ensure more efficient fire-fighting when dealing with wildfires on the border of Sonora/Arizona. The agreement, the Bi-national Convention on Forest Fires (Convenio Binacional de Incendios Forestales) is designed to increase public safety on either side of the border, reduce habitat loss, and facilitate the exchange of information about wildfires, leading to improved preventative measures and firefighter training.

The Convention establishes that when a fire is detected in the municipalities of Nogales, Naco, Agua Prieta or Santa Cruz, a united bi-national command can be established to ensure effective collaboration between the two countries’ firefighters. Firefighting brigades, together with supporting vehicles and aircraft, will be authorized to cross the border by up to 16 km (10 miles) in either direction when battling wildfires, provided they give prior notice to the relevant migration, security and customs agencies in the country concerned.

Coahuila wildfire, April 9, 2011 (Earth Observatory, Landsat-5)

Coahuila wildfire, April 9, 2011 (Earth Observatory, Landsat-5)

Mexico’s worst ever year for forest fires was in 1998, when 14,400 were recorded. In the past three years, 2011 was easily the most disastrous in terms of wildfires, with more than 12,000 fires reported:

  • 2011 – 12,113 fires, affecting  956 square km
  • 2012 –  7,170 fires, affecting 347 square km
  • 2013 – 10,406 fires, affecting 413 square km

In 2013, 99% of wildfires were attributed to “human actions”, with 36% of all fires resulting from deliberate agricultural burn-offs getting out of control.

The main wildfire season is from February to May each year. May is the critical month because it marks the end of the dry season in most of Mexico, the time when the natural landscape looks parched. During May, as the landscape waits for the start of the rainy season, precursor electrical storms are relatively common. Electrical storms can easily trigger wildfires if they ignite the tinder-dry vegetation.

Related posts:

Mexico City’s Ecobici cycle rental system enters its fifth year

 Mexico's geography in the Press  Comments Off on Mexico City’s Ecobici cycle rental system enters its fifth year
Feb 202014
 

Mexico City’s Ecobici system for public bike rentals in and around the city’s historical center celebrated its fourth birthday in February 2014. The system, established in 2010, currently has more than 60,000 24,000 registered users; between them they have already surpassed 13.5 million short trips by Ecobici. City officials calculate that the system has saved 499 metric tons of CO2 since 2010.

Ecobici bike rack
Annual membership currently costs 400 pesos (about 31 dollars). It is also possible to buy membership for a single day (90 pesos), three days or by the week. The system is intended for short trips. With membership, the first 45 minutes of each ride is free.

There are 275 Ecobici cycle stations and 4,000 Ecobici bikes in circulation. The current level of usage is 25,000 trips each day. The average trip distance per ride is 8 kilometers (5 miles), the average trip time is 20-25 minutes; 80% of users are male, and the average ride saves 7.5 kg of atmospheric emissions. Four out of five riders start or end their trip with a ride by bus, taxi, car or metro. City authorities intend to add Ecobici to the Tarjeta Ciudad travel card that can be used to pay for other forms of city transport including the Metro and Metrobús networks.

Is there a down side?

Criticisms of Ecobici have been relatively minor. Initially, some riders complained that the cycle racks were sometimes completely full, meaning they had to cycle to an alternative cycle station where there was space to leave their bike, or that a cycle rack had no bikes to rent, in which case they had the inconvenience of finding another cycle station that did have bikes. Ecobici’s organizers regarded these issues as normal “teething problems” for any system of this scale, and this sort of complaint is now unusual. Authorities hope to implement a system at some point in the future which allows users to receive, via cell phone, real-time information about where bikes are available.

Other road users have complained that some of the Ecobici riders ignore traffic rules by, for example, cycling the wrong way down one-way streets, increasing the chance of an accident.

Area served by the Ecobici system

The 21 square kilometer area served by Ecobici includes the Historic Center of Mexico City and the following neighborhoods (colonias) in the Miguel Hidalgo and Cuauhtémoc districts (delegaciones):

  • Anzures
  • Condesa
  • Cuauhtémoc
  • Escandón
  • Guerrero
  • Juárez (including theZona Rosa)
  • Polanco
  • Roma Norte
  • Roma Sur
  • San Miguel Chapultepec
  • San Rafael
  • Tabacalera

Expansion plans

The city government is now expanding the system by 14 square kilometers into the Benito Juárez district, where 171 new bike stations will be located in 22 neighborhoods, including Del Valle and Narvarte. The new cycle stations being installed allow allow casual users and tourists to pay for each individual trip by credit card.

Related posts: