Mérida’s new bicycle lanes are the talk of the town. Spaning 72 km and crisscrossing the entire city, these new lanes offer locals and visitors a safe, new way to move around. Allow me to tell you a bit more about the city’s bike culture, and get ready to explore on two wheels!
If you’re not particularly comfortable or experienced when it comes to urban cycling, you may want to check out Mérida’s Biciruta on Paseo de Montejo before you head out further afield.
The Biciruta is a weekly event during which Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo is completely closed to motorists from 8 am until 12 pm. This allows cyclists to roam free and enjoy the beauty of this historic avenue and the Centro Histórico. If you do not have a bicycle, don’t fret, as you can rent one for about $20 pesos per hour.
The avenue is lined with all sorts of great breakfast spots and cafés, as well as artisans and artists selling their creations along the sidewalk. The Biciruta has been a city tradition for several years now, but only recently started operating again, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As is the case everywhere in Mérida, cyclists at the Biciruta are expected to wear face masks and maintain social distancing. But in all honesty, the avenue is so large and wide that keeping your distance is not difficult at all. There are also several gel and handwashing stations set up along the avenue, should you feel the need to disinfect your hands.
If you’re an experienced urban cyclist, the city’s bike lanes are a great way to see the city. Just keep in mind that Mérida’s bike culture is still fairly young, and many drivers are still growing accustomed to the new rules of the road.
Bicycle lanes in Mérida are of three basic types. For starters, you have standalone lanes that are separated from motor lanes by physical boundaries such as raised pavement or reflectors. Then you have lanes that are basically only defined by green lines, as well as lanes on the right side of the road with a large green arrow that indicates shared spaces for both cyclists and public transit.
Whether you’re planning to head out to the Biciruta or explore the entire city by bike, it is a good idea to avoid the hottest hours of the day, between 12 pm and 4 pm. This is specially true from April to August when temperatures often surpass 40°C.
Wear a hat, use sunblock, and make sure that you have more than enough drinking water. If you are heading out for a particularly long ride, you may want to take a frozen bottle of water with you. It will help cool you down, and will melt much faster than you think! If you are planning to ride after dark, avoid going through dimly lit areas and wearing dark-colored clothing.
If you are traveling alone and would like some company, why not check out one of Mérida’s many cycling clubs? Most of these groups are easily found on social media, and like all Yucatecos, tend to be very welcoming of newcomers. These groups often organize longer bike rides to nearby communities on the weekends, so just make sure to ask what their itinerary is to ensure it matches up with your skill level.
Cycling in Mérida may not yet be as easy and popular as in cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but it’s certainly on the right track. Just remember to have fun and stay safe.
Editorial by Carlos Rosado.
Coming from a Mexican/Canadian family, Carlos Rosado is an adventure travel guide, blogger, and photographer with studies in Multimedia, Philosophy, and Translation.
Photography by Carlos Rosado for use in Yucatán Today.
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