We bike to and from Spanish school every day, which is about 5km and google maps says it should take 15 minutes, but it takes 20-30 with long lights, heavy traffic, and so many baches (potholes) and topes (speed bumps). We're biking to stores, too, though I'm not sure we'll be able to bike between my uncle's home and the land where we'll be living (it just might not be worth it since we'd have to walk our bikes for some "roads" that are hardly drive-able. We'll see.
I think biking here is only slightly more scary than biking on Cold Springs Rd (Huntingdon PA) cause the cars are way faster there. How much of my attention I need to put towards biking is circumstantial
- Morelia requires 96% of my attention
- Huntingdon, PA got about 70%
- bike paths in Atlanta perhaps 60%
- Lower Trail in central PA usually 50%
Overall, being on a bike among cars, trucks and pedestrians feels safer here than in the US. The part that feels more dangerous is simply the state of the roads - that I have to either charge through a terrible pothole or messy manhole, or dart around and risk being smashed by the truck behind me. I don't think I'll ever successfully bike eggs from the store here, the way I generally could in the US. Soon we'll move to the land and get chickens and I don't think we can deliver them successfully by anything but drone over the roads up there!
Being in traffic feels safer here because people are going slower (due to crappy roads) and because, overall, people are watching all around much more attentively than in the US. I make much more eye contact with drivers and pedestrians here than anywhere else I've biked, because we're all looking up, looking around, negotiating. Traffic rules may not be posted as consistently, but they're consistently common sensical. In the centro, where we have Spanish class, most roads are one-way and most intersections are uno en uno, so one car gets to go from one street, then one from the other, etc.
The roads remind me of India, but less chaos: India's drivers use their horns constantly, here it's more frequent than the US but nothing like India. Here there are occasional dogs on the road (sadly, sometimes dead) and even occasionally a cow (sadly, sometimes dead) but most trips I don't see loose animals in the road. Here there are vehicles without headlights or taillights, perhaps as common as in India. Here lane boundaries are porous and shoulders are used as lanes, but one any street I could say how many theoretical lanes there are (not necessarily in India). The harder thing in Mexico might be that when the road is in good condition people speed up as much as possible, then have to slam the brakes at the next tope or bache. In India that was true on highways, but smaller roads had, perhaps, a more consistent low quality so speed was rather even. One great reason to bike - I won't lose my muffler on a tope.