Cuenca’s transportation office (EMOV) is sponsoring a series of events this week aimed at getting residents out of their cars and onto bicycles or their feet.
“We’re calling our campaign ‘Walking and Pedaling for Security’, putting an emphasis on insuring the safety of those using alternative forms of transportation and getting cars off the streets,” says Juan Carlos Aguirre, EMOV director. “In particular, we are focusing on the historic district where vehicular traffic congestion is especially intense. Our message to citizens is that there are other forms of transportation besides cars and these are generally much more pleasant than spending time trapped in traffic jams.”
Among the week’s activities, Aguirre says, are the closing of some El Centro streets to cars and trucks, a biking educational fair, bicycle training, and the screening of the documenary “Bikes vs Cars” by Scottish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten.
Among the week’s plans are a change of traffic priorities at the busy Av. 12 de Abril and El Vado Bridge intersection. According to Aguirre, restrictions will be placed on vehicular traffic, including the elimination of left turns from 12 de Abril, to provide safer access for pedestrians and bikers. The changes are being coordinated by the urban planning Llactalab Research Group at the University of Cuenca. Changes will begin Wednesday morning.
The El Vado Bridge accommodates more than 50,000 cars, trucks and buses a day, according to EMOV statistics.
“At the beginning, these changes will be an experiment,” says Llactalab’s Daniel Orellana. “We will monitor the changes and, if they are successful, we will recommend that they be installed permanently.”
He added: “We will be sending a message to drivers that the streets of Cuenca are for everyone, not just for cars.”
On Friday, Calle Hermano Miguel between Juan Jaramillo and President Córdova will be closed to traffic and will host informational exhibits.
For more information about the week’s events, go to the EMOV website.