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Tijuana bicyclists participated in a promotion for Bike to Work day in San Ysidro last week and said they hoped that a separate bicycle lane could be built at the border.
Angel Morales, who lives in Tijuana and works in Fashion Valley, said, "We need a line to go across the border for those of us who work in the United States." He said people who want to bike across the border often take their cars instead of waiting for hours in the pedestrian line, as "at least if you come in your car you are sitting." This, bikers pointed out, then causes more pollution at the border.
Morales said he would like to see a bike crossing lane at the northbound San Ysidro port of entry, which is being upgraded. Others have suggested that such a lane be built at the new El Chaparral crossing Mexico has under construction along the Tijuana River a few blocks to the west, where a pedestrian crossing is eventually planned. Some want that pedestrian crossing built this year because of the problems that may result if Mexico shuts down the current southbound pedestrian crossing later this year to allow vehicle access to El Chaparral; the U.S. does not plan to make a direct Interstate 5 connection to El Chaparral for several years.
Above photo: Daniel Gómez Patiño, Flor María Mejia Ramos and Aaron Morales arrive at Bike-to-Work-Day pit stop in San Ysidro.
The pit stop for people crossing from Tijuana for Bike to Work Day on Friday was sponsored by the San Diego Regional Association of Governments (Sandag), and, for the special occasion, the Tijuana bikers participating were able to go to the head of the border line through a SENTRI fast-crossing lane. Bikers in Tijuana later followed three routes around the city and met up at the Plaza Viva Tijuana under the auspices of Tijuaneando en Bici. Story, El Mexicano, with photo showing scores of bicyclists turning at Tijuana intersection (PDF).
Sandag Team Borders member Ronald Saenz said he thought some bicycle border crossing issues could be solved by issuing bicycle licenses tying riders to specific bicycles. When bicyclists at a previous point in time were able to go to the front of a border crossing lane, the system got abused by entrepreneurs who rented bikes to people who only rode them long enough to avoid lengthy waits in the pedestrian lines. Saenz said such a licensing program has helped resolve problems at the Vietnamese-Cambodia border. Currently, neither San Diego nor Tijuana require bicyclists to have licenses.
Ricardo Castro of Tijuana was not bicycling on Friday, but stopped at the pit stop and said he would bike across the border more often if it were more convenient. "We need a crossing for bicyclists," the 43-year-old said. He said he usually does not even take the trolley, but walks miles to and from work after crossing the border.
Bike Locker program:
People who cross the border to work can sign up for bike lockers to store their bikes while they are at their jobs. While most of the lockers are mechanical, using physical keys, more and more electronic bike lockers using Bike Link cards are being put in place, allowing the program greater versatility. The bike locker program costs $25. There are bike lockers at virtually every trolley stop; no thefts have been reported, Transportation Demand Management staffer Daniel Avitia said.
Friday's crossing in support of Bike to Work Day also involved the descendant of a man who was killed during the 1911 defense of Tijuana. Flor María Mejia Ramos is the great-granddaughter of Pastor Ramos, killed while trying to stop Mexican, U.S. and other foreign fighters allied with Mexican Revolution intellectual Ricardo Flores Magón from taking over Tijuana. (Although the "Magonistas" did take over Tijuana, they were driven across the border the next month.) The streets between the new El Chaparral border crossing and the current Puerta México crossing are all named for men, including Ramos, who died defending Tijuana.
Tijuana bike groups:
Also participating Friday was Arturo Viazcán, who operates Tijuana Bike Tours.
Tijuana bicycle groups include Ladies Ride (Mondays), Bici Boys (Tuesdays), Ciclopista (Wednesdays and Sundays) and Extreme (Thursdays). There also is Rodando en Baja
In left photo, Flor María Mejia Ramos, Angel Morales, Arturo Viazcán and Aaron Morales at the Bike to Work pit stop in San Ysidro. Holding up T-shirt in right background is Beto Arballo, who says he rides every two weeks to Coronado from the border, eventually getting on the Bayshore Bikeway that goes to Coronado from Imperial Beach (some would like to see the bikeway extended to San Ysidro). In left background are UCSD graduate student Elizabeth Chaney and Daniel Gómez Patiño, 49, who says he will sometimes wait in the pedestrian line with his bicycle two hours to cross the border, then bike 11 hours to Long Beach and then take an Amtrak train back to San Diego.
In right photo, the bikers returned to Tijuana after first riding up San Ysidro Boulevard to Camino de la Plaza to get across I-5.
The pit stop (far right of photo at left) in the San Ysidro cycle parking lot was just north of the new pedestrian bridge over I-5.
In right photo, the cycle parking lot is seen in a photo taken last summer from the pedestrian bridge, well before the I-5 entrance ramp was closed for construction work.