Written by Gisela Méndez, General Director of El Instituto de Planeación para el Municipio de Colima
“It would not be progressive to ask where do we go, but rather where do we stop?” – Mafalda, Quino
In a congested Colima, it is common to hear “look at all the cars! We are growing so fast”. A few months after seeing our first vehicle-loop open, a young student said “thank goodness, we are already looking like Guadalajara.” This is not a sign of progress. The challenges of urban mobility and transport is to NOT emulate the actions of large cities: catering to an increase in motor transport begets more of the same. The real challenge is to increase mobility while maintaining the freedom to choose the mode of transport.
What does Colima’s metropolitan area look like?
-Population growth of 1.3% annually (trending downward)
-Vehicle growth of over 4% annually
-2.4 people per car, (higher than Mexico City, Leon and Guadalajara, 4th highest in the world)
An effective transportation system is needed now to keep Colima compact: an ounce of medicine equals a pound of cure, as they say. But in reality, the transportation system is already in crisis: disjointed, costly, unpredictable, and highly stigmatized by society, the question is: where to start? What opportunities to create change exist?
And more importantly, with only 250,000 inhabitants, who will pay attention?
Colima began by exploring the experiences of other cities, which proved to be as exciting as it was discouraging: the success stories began with strong political leadership, high technical capacity, integration of urban mobility into urban development, and most importantly, access to financial resources that are generally reserved for large metropolitan areas. Colima possessed none of these elements.
But what Colima did have was the political will to transform an urban culture. The main points to convey in order to make this happen are:
1. Transportation is about the movement of people AND urban design;
2. Urban mobility should be a demand for everyone, not just big cities.
Cultural transformation is a long-term endeavour that requires widespread acceptance, so it is imperative that everyone is given a stake in its success. Students, professionals, academics and subject experts were trained to jointly promote change in the urban planning processes.
By examining case studies from around the world and identifying both success and failures, Colima is creating a unique model incorporating both local context and international best practice. The creation of an association of municipalities and a metropolitan council; the involvement of an educated citizenry; and utilizing national technical experts is leading to a transformation in the governance of mobility. This participatory approach has resulted in an entire city working in tandem towards a more sustainable Colima.
El Instituto de Planeación para el Municipio de Colima is currently working on its master plan to increase mobility in a rapidly growing metropolitan area. Stay tuned for further updates.