HIDALGO, Texas (Border Report) — On any given day, dozens of bicycles can be found chained to posts at the base of the McAllen–Hidalgo International Bridge where many commuters have discovered that bicycling over this bridge from Mexico can be far faster than sitting in hours of traffic waiting to cross.
Folks begin peddling in from Mexico well before the sun comes up, then they board buses or cabs that take them into the neighboring cities of McAllen, Hidalgo, Pharr and Edinburg.
Bicycling over this heavily trafficked bridge, which connects South Texas with the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, can be a time-saver. But with temperatures some mornings topping 90 degrees lately, this form of transportation can result in a sweaty arrival.
Despite the extreme temperatures, however, bridge officials tell us that a steady flow of cyclists continue to come this route to avoid waiting in lines of traffic that can take hours to clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoints.
There were so many bikes at one point that the bicycles were thrown in heaps, one atop another. Many were often stolen and others were found strewn about in the nearby town of Hidalgo, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, who is chairman of the Hidalgo-McAllen International Bridge Board, told Border Report.
“On any given day there’d be 20 to 30 bicycles thrown down,” Darling said. “They’d just dump them.”
So bridge officials built a special “bike barn” section where bikes can be chained and locked, and hopefully found at day’s end.
Bridge officials say that now there are fewer stolen bicycles, and this healthy mode of transportation is gaining in popularity.
When schools start up in South Texas in a couple of weeks, they are expecting even more international cyclists as students coming from Mexico traditionally also peddle over and take awaiting school buses to charter schools.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.