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Pedaling down Guadalajara’s first cycle track

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Guadalajara’s first cycle track runs for 5km on each side of Avenida Federalismo.
(Photos © J. Maus)

La ciclovia es solo por las bicicletas.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Portland might be getting excited for its first-ever cycle track due on NE Cully Blvd. in 2010, but here in Guadalajara, riders are already enjoying theirs.

Today, I got a tour of a recently completed cycle track (they call them “ciclovias” which translates into bikeways and is not to be confused with the carfree street event in Bogota, Colombia) on Avenida Federalismo. When finished, this cycle track will run for 5 km on both sides of Av. Federalismo.

This is just one project in Guadalajara’s “Mobilidad Urbana” campaign, an aggressive new program to promote non-motorized transportation.

This photo gives you
an idea of how wide it is.

My first impression of the cycle track was one of excitement. Here I was, in a city where only 2.2% of the residents go by bike and where cars, buses, and taxis absolutely dominate the public space — yet now there is an oasis for bikes. In Portland, we have 6-8% bike use and we are thought of as a very bike-friendly city, yet we still have no concrete plans for a cycle track in our urban core (although one could be announced any day now).

Once on the ciclovia (we got on it just past the “Cycle Walk” public art installation), I appreciated the black asphalt surface material. This makes a nice, visual barrier to separate it from the white concrete pedestrian space.

This skateboarder and the
man in this truck must not yet
know what this cycle track is.

The width — about 4-5 feet — felt a bit narrow and I spoke about the issue with my guide Ricardo (I will update with his full name when I track it down — my apologies). Ricardo is in charge of all policy regarding non-motorized transportation in Guadalajara. I shared a concern that the door zone would go about 60% into the cycle track. Further down the lane, Ricardo pointed out their solution; large reflector bumps set about one foot from the curb. This gives a bit of buffer space between parked cars and bikes on the cycle track (a good solution, but keeping it free of litter and debris might be difficult).

If you’re curious, Portland’s plans for the Cully Blvd. cycle track call for a 6-foot bike lane with a 2.5-foot “painted buffer” from the curb to accomodate the door zone.

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It didn’t take more than half a block before we encountered the door zone problem. Two men in a truck could have cared less about our presence as they kept about their business — door ajar the whole time. This shows the challenge Guadalajara will have in educating people to respect the new bikeway.

These are new markings
that help identify the bikeway
through the intersection.

The intersection transitions were a simple ramp that dumps the cycle track into the main roadway. At all crossings (driveways and streets), they have painted a series of blue hash marks to mark the cycle track.

Overall, this is a very exciting project for Guadalajara. Once complete, it will be the first place in the city where bikes can travel on a main thoroughfare unmolested — except of course for open car doors, intersections, parked cars, and the occasional skateboarder. But hopefully, a bit of education, consideration, and precaución will take care of all that.

My suggestion to Ricardo was to have a big party when the entire cycle track is competed. Una fiesta de ciclovia!

— For more cycle track photos and the latest images from my Guadalajara adventures, browse the photo gallery.