Streetmix Stories: Mexico City experiments with participatory street design
by Aline Reynolds
Mexico City is pioneering a new kind of participatory design model that allows its citizens to take a leading role in improving the city’s streetscape and public realm.
Residents, teachers, and others from Colonia Cuauhtémoc, a neighborhood in Mexico City’s central Financial District, have banded together to request safety and other corridor enhancements for a local street — Río Éufrates. “Neighbors don’t usually ask for traffic studies,” according to Mexican architect and Streetmix user Patricio M. Ruiz Abrín. “We’re making history here!”
The citizens group is gathering at least $50,000 in funds for the project’s first phase (featuring a traffic study) from neighborhood parking meter revenues that the city oversees and distributes. The purpose of the study is to gather concrete data on safety, congestion, and other issues plaguing Río Éufrates, with the end goal of devising solutions that benefit all users of the street.
Upon receipt of payment for the initial study, Ruiz Abrín, one of the founders of the Mexican design-consulting firm Centrico, will go out to measure sections of Río Éufrates and then conjure up quick sketches of the corridor using Streetmix. “We use the sketches to communicate clearly and easily how the uses of the street are distributed,” said the project manager. Ruiz Abrín will then share the data and graphics with Centrico’s traffic engineers, who will run micro-simulations toward the creation of a computerized model of the street.
“Traffic modeling works with the size of the sidewalks, the vehicle lanes, and the presence or absence of street parking,” explained Ruiz Abrín. “We also have to measure the cars’ average speed and the highest volumes of traffic — and we put all of that information into the computer model.”
As part of the project’s public engagement component, the Centrico team will also be gathering feedback from the citizens group. “We’re going to get together with the actors involved and we’re going to ask them, ‘How would you improve this street?’” said Ruiz Abrín.
Thanks for sharing with us your Streetmix story with us, Patricio M. Ruiz Abrín! We hope to see Centrico’s Río Éufrates design in action soon.
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