Hampshire alum Mike Meo has won a research grant to study in Mexico City
Hampshire alum Mike Meo ‘07F has won a research grant from Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Mexican Cities Initiative.
Studying for a master’s in architecture, Meo has a particular interest in participatory processes in design, and has contributed to and led design-build projects in Massachusetts, California, South Korea, the Philippines, and Colombia.
For his fellowship project, titled En Bici (On Bike), Meo is examining bike cultures in Mexico City and documenting ways cyclists use a bike to demonstrate resilience and shape perceptions of the city. As a researcher, he is immersing himself in the lives of the city’s bicyclists—educators, policymakers, bike builders, mechanics, activists, and community leaders.
Meo sees biking as a way to learn the land and build community. One of the first outgrowths of his fellowship is a project called Todos en Bici, which aims to make bike-based exploration accessible to everyone. In December, he will lead a group of 20 bikers of all ages, including people with disabilities, blind riders, and deaf riders, on an 800-mile (1,300 km) journey across the Baja California desert. The participants have a range of abilities, so they’ll ride in pairs that consist of an experienced biker and a novice.
Much of his inspiration, says Meo, comes from Paseo a Ciegas, a biking group in Mexico City that pairs blind riders with guides on tandem bikes to explore the city together.
Meo plans to film the journey, in part to draw viewers to biking and dispel assumptions about it. “My hope is to inspire empathy and imagination,” he wrote in the project blog, “to expose people to the potentially transformative nature of bicycle travel, and to prove that bicycle travel can be made more accessible.”
His research promises to have an impact on cities and towns whose design plans sway people to choose between motorized vehicles and bikes.
Read more about Meo’s research: