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.


Under-utilized space on Panama's streets

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.


No pedestrian zone between cars and buildings

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.

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  1. […] I need a car, and there will be no relief of traffic congestion. Investment is needed to make the streets livable! courtesy of […]

  2. Mario M. wrote:

    Hola Daniel,

    Nice website and great article. Apologies for writing this in Spanglish. No se si estas anuente al nuevo plan de reordenamiento vial de Ciudad de Panama. I’d be interested in your opinion on it. While I think it is a step forward, I have some doubts about it because like all good planes de reordenamiento vial, it seems to still be automobile dominated.

    What are your thoughts on a woonerf style of street integration in Panama City? Do you think it is possible. Design wise it’s possible, but can we successfully incorporate it into our culture? Have we become too reliant on the automobile to give the streets back to pedestrians and cyclists?

    • admin wrote:

      Thank You Mario!
      The woonerf style is great and I believe that it is possible in Panama only if there are multiple transportation options available. If it is easy to navigate the city by public transport, people will leave their cars at home, and hopefully the streets will be a better mix of cyclists, pedestrians, trams, and automobiles. I think that the reordenamiento vial de Ciudad de Panama will make it easier to drive through the city, but it is not addressing the pedestrian. Culturally, I see that there are some bicycling groups in Panama City now, and I believe that these types of grass roots organizations will bring about the change in Urban Planning.