The decision to institute parking fees on Av. Remigio Crespo is not the solution to the neighborhood´s traffic problems say business and home owners in the area. With more than 13,000 vehicle trips per day, the street is Cuenca´s businest and most congested, according to city statistics.
Within the last two decades, according to city authorities, Remigio Crespo has transformed from a quiet residential street to one dominated by businesses, especially bars and restaurants that draw a large amount of traffic. “The area has become a disaster,” say Mario Espinoza, whose wife´s family recently sold its home. “From Wednesday through Saturday, the bars are packed and traffic is horrible.”
He says that illegal parking routinely blocks one of the two traffic lanes in each direction. “The authorities tow a few cars but not enough.”
Cuenca´s office of parking and mobility began charging for parking last month, designating 300 spaces in the area for legal parking.
As homeowners sell out, businesses complain that the new parking charges will drive away customers. One, Mauricio Espinoza, does not object to policing parking but worries that enforcement will be heavy handed. "We do not want to scare our customers because we live by them."
City councilman Jaime Moreno says that a parking fee is not the answer and that a systematic solution is needed for the enitre area. “Otherwise, things will continue to get worse."
National statistics show that car ownership is growing more rapidly in Cuenca than in any other city in Ecuador. One in four city residents own a car while the ownership rate in Quito is one in five. Moreno says this is understandable because Cuenca is the country´s “most prosperous” city. “But, we need to plan for the growth," he says. "The number of cars will continue to grow and we cannot ignore the fact.”
Photo caption: A cyclist on Av. Remigio Crespo finds a rare open lane.