Thursday, February 20, 2014

México: Capital Claims It is 4th in the World for Bicycle Usage, Where is the Transparency?

According to The Latin American Tribune, Mexico City will become the No. 4 city in the world in terms of bicycle use this year, with the number of users of the Public Bicycles System reaching 180,000 and 13.5 million trips being logged, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera emphasized.

Mancera unveiled the next phase of the EcoBici program on Tuesday (February 18), when the project marked its 4th anniversary.

EcoBici is being expanded to the borough of Benito Juarez, covering a nearly 14 sq. kilometer (5.4 sq. mile) area and adding 22 new neighborhoods, 171 stations, 2,600 bicycles and about 60,000 new users, the mayor said.

“EcoBici will become the fourth-largest system in the world and the top one in the Americas, overtaking New York City and trailing only Paris, Beijing and London,” Mancera said.

COMMENT: The next phase of the program will allow users to pay with credit cards at every station in an effort to “serve domestic and international tourists in this jurisdiction (Benito Juarez) and in the capital’s high-tourism zones,” the mayor said.

EcoBici was launched in February 2010 with 75 bicycle stations, which later grew to 90 and 1,200 bikes in the downtown area.

The number of users has grown each year and now totals around 120,000.

Mexico City’s government also announced the “Ecobici 4th Anniversary Challenge,” a contest that will award prizes to the users logging the most bike trips during February 18-28.

The top prize is a three-day, two-night trip for two to Barcelona. Additionally, five smartphones and ten eco-bikes are also being awarded during the ten-day Challenge.

I really don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but the touted bike program seems to ignore the fact that México is among one of the most corrupt law enforcement systems in the world.

Also, the US Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), designated Mexico City as “Critical” threat for crime in its 2013 Crime and Safety Report, yet for the Crime and Safety Report in 2014, no such designation was noted, suggesting that perhaps the Department has “caved in” to political correctness in the interest of promoting Mexican tourism, which is completely understandable.

In any event, one must assume that if the criminal threat in the Mexican capital was “Critical” in 2013, what has changed in 2014, other than the convenient omission of the word “Critical”?

It should also be noted that “Critical” threat is the highest threat level of the Department’s four-tier threat categorization system of “Critical, High, Medium and Low.”

Based upon my 30+ years’ experience in analyzing, assessing and forecasting international criminal and terrorist threats for the US Department of State, the Inter-American Development Bank and numerous multinational companies, I must say that the out-of-control criminal threat in Mexico City doesn’t even begin to reach the much lower levels of threats residents face in New York City, Beijing and Paris. 

According to http://www.cpi.transparency.org, out of 175 countries evaluated in the 2013 Corruption Perception Index, México placed 106 out of 175, putting the country in the lower 50% of the LEAST transparent nations.

Specifically, inquiring minds want to know the criminality stemming from the bike-usage program, including homicide, armed robbery, forcible rape, assault and larceny, none of this data has reportedly been released by the mayor of Mexico City.

For foreign visitors to México, it is my suggestion that travelers not participate in Eco-Bici until such time as its level of security as been independently evaluated.

I should also point out that to my knowledge NO study of foreign usage of Eco-Bici has yet been conducted, as foreign visitors are at the top of most criminals' "To-Do" List in Mexico City.