As of this year, Donald Trump has been president of the United States for an entire year. One of his first campaign promises, to fortify the border with Mexico in the South, has been met with both jubilant support and adamant opposition from many Americans. In one of many attempts to prevent the construction of the wall, the Texas-based bikeshare company Suncycle is trying to unite Mexicans and Americans through a binational bikeshare system in place of the divisive border.
Despite the current conversation around undocumented immigrants and further separating Mexican-American families, bikeshare company Suncycle is looking to expand its services to Cuidad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The expansion would effectively connect the two cities that lie on opposite sides of the Rio Grande River through a binational bikeshare system.
The plan, which was discussed at the Transportation Research Board in Washington D.C. earlier last month, was put forward by El Paso’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) more than a year ago. The MPO’s plan has a projected budget of $1 million US and will build on Suncycle’s already existing network, coming into operation as early as autumn of this year.
Sunsycle’s bikeshare system originally launched in El Paso in 2015 with 8 stations, growing to 15 stations in just one year. The binational bikeshare plan hopes to have 300 bicycles at 30 stations on both sides of the Rio Grande by the time the project launches. The projected budget will be used to develop new bike lanes and other necessary equipment on the Mexican side of the river for the binational bikeshare system to work.
As optimistic as the project is, binational transport has proven difficult in other situations due to the nature of border crossings in international transport. Coupled with the current climate at the Mexican-U.S. border and the rhetoric around undocumented immigrants from the south of the United States. Pedestrian crossings at the Rio Grande are not uncommon, however, meaning that, with the right infrastructure in place, cyclists too may be able cross the border and pass by immigration without any obstacles.
This would not be the world’s first border crossing that has intricate legalities. Some travelers have reported that they walked across the Allenby Bridge crossing between the Occupied West Bank and Jordan. In 2015, during the refugee influx from Syria, many crossed the Norwegian-Russian border on bicycles due to a legal loophole. Between Germany and Poland, many cycle across the paved bicycle lanes that exist along the border.