The average round trip commute for a Mexico City resident is 2.5 hours, which includes the tens of thousands of students that study at UNAM. The necessity for a bike share system runs deep with the majority of students taking a collective van to a bus to a crowded subway just to arrive at the campus entrance. I had the luck of only living a 30 minute commute away, but those 30 minutes were spent in a combi, one of the collective vans that are so small and crowded that its near impossible to reach in your pocket for your 3 pesos (roughly 30 cents) to pay the driver.
When my combi would let me out at Ciudad Universitaria I would pop out, walk through the bustling market and arrive at the main entrance of UNAM, where on one side were hundreds of students waiting for the buses that would loop around the campus and on the other side the bright green BiciCentro. This bike center is the nucleus of the BiciPumas system and upon entering it daily, I would pick out whichever navy blue five-speed bike seemed to have the highest seat, flash my student ID to an UNAM employee who would scan my ID and bicycle and the bike was mine for the next 20 minutes. Off I would go on the bike paths that crisscross the university alongside scores of students, some who use these bikes every day, and others who dump their pocketbooks in their baskets and are clearly riding a bike for the first time in ten years.
That’s right, bicycles are only loaned for 20 minutes at a time, just enough time to arrive at my department, the Center for Foreign Students, but not long enough to stop and grab a bite to eat, or chat with a friend one might encounter. However, should I find myself in a situation where I would need to extend the time period I can check in to any of the seven bike modules located along the bike paths.