Livable "Complete" Streets for Panama
I noticed this initiative by The National Complete Streets Coalition (via Wired Magazine) which seeks to create guidelines for more livable urban streets. The definition of “livable” in this case is that the streets are accommodating to all modes of transportation; autos, pedestrians, bicycles, and public transportation.
This is something which I believe should be adopted by Panama in order to fix the increasing problems of traffic, pollution, and an unlivable urban environment.
The beauty of this plan is that there are no huge infrastructure costs. It makes use of the existing roadways and simply reorganizes the lanes of travel to safely accommodate all modes of transportation. The studies in other reports show that the reduction of travel lanes for automobiles does not increase congestion. Rather, by optimizing the design of the roadways and providing alternate modes of travel, traffic congestion actually decreases. In addition to creating a larger scale rapid transit metro line running the length of the region, smaller scale street cars and bus rapid transit could be added to the existing street network using this livable streets framework. In many cases the streets of Panama City are much larger than they really need to be.
If the center lane of main avenues were converted into street car or bus lanes, a much more efficient and less congested transportation network would be created. Residents would have options in their daily transportation needs rather than being forced to rely on the automobile or the “red devils” which share the congested roadways with regular traffic.
Another interesting feature of this plan is that pedestrian uses are placed so that they front the street. Currently the pedestrian areas are setback and the buildings are separated from the roadways by parking lots. This creates an environment that is not walkable or friendly to the pedestrian because they are in constant fear of a maniac driver. By providing a well defined pedestrian only zone, a sidewalk, and pulling the buildings closer to the roadway, the drivers will become more aware that they are sharing the road, and the area will become more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. This has the possibility of increasing business in the area because people are more likely to browse the stores if they feel safe walking. Watch this video to see this theory put to use in Peru.