CUENCA DIGESTNew city rules reduce street parking in El Centro

Jul 22, 2010

Cuenca city officials say that elimination of parking spaces on six historic district streets has improved traffic flow. They say that the full impact of the changes won’t be felt until roadwork, especially on Calle Simon Bolivar, is completed in September.

According to city parking coordinator Cris Zhindón, the opening of traffic lanes previously used for parking on Calles Gran Colombia, Malo and Sucre and other streets, has reduced congestion and improved traffic flow at major intersections.

Zhindón is urging motorists who drive in the central historic district to use public parking. “This reduces congestion and is safer for the drivers and cars,” he says. “The removal of street parking is part of Cuenca’s master mobility plan and we expect to see continued improvement in the coming months.”

U.S. CONSULATE STAFF TO MEET WITH U.S. EXPATS ON SATURDAY

U.S. citizens living in the Cuenca area are invited to meet the staff of the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil, Saturday, July 24 at 4 p.m. at Zoe’s Restaurant on Calle Borrero.

According to staff of the Consulate, the purpose of the meeting is to provide information about consulate services and to discuss other issues important to U.S. expats. There will be a question and answer session. 

Organizers say that the meeting is informal, focused on exchanging information and ideas between Consulate staff and U.S. citizens.

NEW PEDESTRIAN RULES ARE NOT BEING ENFORCED

A year after it went into effect, a new law mandating fines for pedestrians who ignore the rules of the road, has been all but forgotten.

The pedestrian rules, part of a larger traffic control law, were implemented after a study showed that 10% to 12% of all auto accidents in Ecuador are caused by pedestrians who don’t respect laws. Tickets for offenses such as jaywalking and walking in the street instead of on the sidewalk, were set at $15. In 2009, the government launched a three-month nation-wide campaign to educate pedestrians, particularly about the dangers of jaywalking.

Police claim they are understaffed and have more important responsibilities than writing tickets for pedestrians. Cuenca police officer Urquiuco Carlos says he has stopped punishing jaywalkers because of orders from his superiors. “It became pointless for us to fine people when we have other duties to perform. There is still a serious problem with pedestrians and they cause accidents but we need more help to enforce the law.”  

CITY DEVELOPING AN ‘ACOUSTIC MAP’ TO HELP WITH NOISE REDUCTION

Think Cuenca is too noisy? So does city government and it is developing an “acoustic map” by taking decibel measurements in a variety of locations.

According to Nancy Garcia, an official with an historic district oversight committee, the noise map will determine where action is required to bring noise to acceptable levels. “With the results, we can make plans for remediation,” she says, noting that early results show that noise levels are unaccepted in many parts of the city. The Center for Environmental Studies at the University of Cuenca is conducting the decibel tests and compiling the map.

So far, the study has found trouble spots on Av. Solano, Calles Larga, Juan Jaramillo, Muñoz and Av. Ordoñez Lasso, but Garcia says that results are only beginning to be evaluated. “Once we have all the data, we will make recommendations that may involve changing bus routes and bus route frequency or taking other measures to reduce traffic noise.” Garcia said the study will also look at other sources of noise besides traffic, including night clubs and barking dogs.

The Center for Environment Studies is using the international standard of 60 decibels as an acceptable noise level limit.

Photo caption: Taking noise measurements in Cuenca's historic district; photo credit: El Mercurio 

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