Editor’s Note: This post is inspirational in showing how a simple group ride can be an effective tool in bicycle advocacy. Because of Paseo de Todos, residents of Tijuana now have a future to look forward to – one where bicyclists and motorists can co-exist peacefully.

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For the past year, a group ride called “Paseo de Todos“, which translates to  “Everyone’s Ride”, has been attracting hundreds of riders from all over San Diego and Mexico. It is a ride that is held on the first Friday of every month in Tijuana, Mexico.

Envisioned by Tijuana resident, Arturo Viazcán, the ride was designed as a group ride that would bring cyclists of all persuasions together, once a month.

Participants of Paseo de Todos. The Tijuana Arch is visible in the background.
Paseo de TODOS (Everyone's Ride)

The ride begins at the Tijuana Arch on Avenida Revolución just south of the U.S. border.  I have been participating in the ride nearly every month since the beginning of of this year. Witnessing the mutual respect demonstrated by both the cyclists and motorists has made a very strong impression on me. The ride leaders are very visible to all riders with their orange vests and help veterans and new riders navigate the streets by calling out directions in both Spanish and English. They are very effective in setting up expectations to both the riders and motorists which prevents any potential for conflict.While riding, cyclists often witness motorists cheer them on as they pass. What is even more remarkable, is to witness well over a hundred fifty cyclists stop if one among them gets a flat tire. They will wait until the cyclist is ready to continue.

Arturo Viazcán. Photo from Arturo Viazcán.

One of the key organizers of “Paseo de Todos,” Arturo Viazcán, is a graphic designer from Tijuana. He got the idea for a group ride after he attended The Mexican National Congress for Urban Cycling held in Guadalajara over a year ago. The organization had many presentations geared toward alternative transportation advocates. It was in Guadalajara that Viazcán participated in a group ride that became the model for Paseo de Todos in Tijuana.  Upon Viazcán’s return to Tijuana he began meeting with leaders of the dozen or so different cycling groups in the Tijuana region with the goal of forming a coalition.  Although the various cycling groups had different interests and goals, they agreed on the idea of having one unified group ride, once a month. Thus Paseo de Todos was born.

The ride has continued to grow every single month since its start in the summer of 2010. With the growth, the cycling groups that were responsible for the ride’s initial beginnings continue to meet and strategize on effectively managing the ride’s continuing growth. As a result of these meetings, “Paseo de Todos” has grown in size, attracting cyclists from both sides of the U.S. border. Many San Diegans regularly ride down to Tijuana to participate in the monthly ride.

Below is a video that was taken at a Paseo de Todos earlier this year:

Paseo de Todos’s success has also attracted the attention of IMPLAN, Tijuana’s Metropolitan Planning Institute.  IMPLAN contacted the organizers of Paseo de Todos to partner with them. IMPLAN was interested in organizing a conference on urban mobility that would bring together experts in the field, government workers, and local advocates with the goal of exchanging ideas in order to build regional transportation network that would be healthier, more efficient and safer. This conference called “Horizontes 2020-2030” was held last weekend.

Attendees at Horizontes 2020-2030 held on August 5-6, 2011

Horizontes 2020-2030 featured lectures by experts in urban mobility including San Diego locals Andrea Garland of Alta Planning & Design, a firm that specializes in Bike and Pedestrian Design, and Johan Wangbichler co-organizer of the Urban Bike and Social Club. The conference also featured Mexican urban cyclnig leaders such as Mariana Orozco, from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and David Pulido of BiciRed, Mexico’s network of urban cyclists based in Monterrey, Mexico.  During the conference, leaders of local Tijuana cycling clubs had the opportunity to meet with local officials and discuss the needs of Tijuana cyclists.
The conference was a success as the attendees from all sides were able to exchange ideas on what the obstacles for Tijuana cyclists and pedestrians were. So while the built environment was not especially conducive to active transportation, the already existing  mutual respect and communication between users, planners, and advocates demonstrated monthly at Paseo de Todos shows a very promising future.

Do you want to ride in “Paseo de Todos” and experience Tijuana cycling culture?
When: the 1st Friday of the month leaving at 8pm
Where: El Arco / Reloj Monumental – Avenida Revolucion & Calle 1
How to get there: Take the trolley or ride down with Urban Bike and Social Club
Remember to bring your passport and cash for tacos after the ride.