We analyzed two different problems with regards to mobility and traffic in our community: one, traffic outside the school; and two, getting around by bicycle.
At Bachillerato Internacional 5 de Mayo, located in Cuautlancingo, Puebla, Mexico, we, a team of six students, took on the Renault Challenge 2017. We analyzed different problems with regards to mobility and traffic. It was therefore considered important to make changes in daily practices in these areas.
Two main areas were highlighted:
1. Traffic outside the school when students are being left off.
2. Getting around by bicycle.
With regards to:
1. TRAFFIC - It was observed that the road on which our school is situated only has one lane but parents use it as if it had two. They leave their children at the school gate and then do a U-turn, slowing down traffic. We looked for a few alternative routes to make it possible to keep a one-way system on the road outside the school during rush hour (from 7:30-8:00 am).
2. MOVING AROUND BY BICYCLE - Two important points were recognized: the ideal use of a bicycle and safe transit conditions for cyclists.
To contextualize and verify our proposed solution, first we observed that, during one week, car drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists all encountered the same problems: stray dogs, trash, potholes and inaccessible sidewalks, leading to a complicated situation on the road.
Then we created and applied a diagnostic test, which reflected the conduct of the school community in regard to mobility. The results of a survey, in which a representative sample of pupils (74 students) were questioned, showed that 80% arrive at the school between 7:30 am and 8:00 am; 49% arrive by car and half of these pupils are dropped off right in front of the entrance gate. Another 49% use public transport and arrive on foot, and only 2% use a bicycle.
Finally, we interviewed a student cyclist about her experiences in order to find out about the problems that she faces and we observed that she had the same problems.
With all this information, we had a panoramic view of the situation.
The following actions were set out to resolve the problems.
1. On the topic of traffic outside the school during rush hour:
• We investigated the mobility laws in the district of Cuautlancingo with the intention of finding out the direction of the street, given that there are no signs.
• We carried out two meetings with parents and the school principal to raise awareness in our community. The principal agreed; the road outside the school would be used as a one-way street during rush hour. One would need to take alternative routes to get back to the main road. Agreements were reached and as a consequence a campaign was started among the whole community. The team handed out an informational leaflet, in which the results of the investigation, the proposals and the agreements of the assembly were presented. The leaflet also explained what to do in order to avoid a U-turn on the road and how to take an alternative route. A sign was also hung outside the school to reinforce the proposals.
• We spread information and understanding with the aim of changing conduct on the road within the school community.
• Furthermore, a speed reduction was asked for in the district of Cuautlancingo.
2. With regards to the issue of bicycles, we came up with the idea of a campaign in the school to spread the benefits of this means of transport:
• We asked the students to participate in a competition to design the ‘ideal bicycle’, with the aim of promoting this campaign as well as creating a model of the ideal bicycle. This bicycle would be suited for whatever type of mishap, as well as being easy to acquire. We had five interesting models and the participation of three bicycle experts who evaluated the models and chose two winners. However, during the competition experts and member of the board stated that the ideal bicycle doesn’t exist. They conclude that the ‘ideal’ is to train the cyclist on topics such as basic mechanics of the bicycle, transit rules, and the Highway Code. Therefore, one member of the board, who is also a teacher in our school, gave us a training course.
• Along with the training, we decided to link the topic of bicycles with that of books, in celebration of International Book and Authors’ Rights Day. A forum was organized with reports on social projects on the use of bicycles and the importance of documenting mobility experiences in urban areas.
• With all these actions we observed that our student community started to become involved and motivated about bicycle use and its benefits, as well as the responsibility that goes with riding a bicycle.
• Now the traffic outside the school flows better. We hope that parents follow the agreements made at all times in order to have a good life together.
• With regards to the use of bicycles as an alternative method of transport, we considered it necessary to continue with classes on the use of bicycles because a large group of students have now been motivated to participate.