How Walkable / Pedestrian Friendly Is Downtown Panama City, Panama?

Dylan's picture

The answer to the question in the title of the Blog- well...... the picture to the right might be a little bit deceiving.  

Although this particular area in the park in the picture is a beautiful example of a pedestrian friendly walkable/bikeable thoroughfare, what I can remember is almost getting run over by a taxi and then a bus almost immediately after taking the photo, then doing a move just like a running back in a football game to get to the other side of the street.  I do not recall there being any traffic lights in all of the city either.  Crosswalks with signs are almost non-existent.  The car is king in Panama City, and bus and taxi.  Driving, biking, or walking is a pretty unbelievable affair most of the time in this city.

The new park along the waterline of the Pacific Ocean between the Central Business District and the Casco Viejo, however, is cause for delight amongst any urban planning students.  The park in the photo also features recreational facilities such as basketball courts and playgrounds, as well as winds past a marina and the traditional fishing docks of the old city where one can stop to savor the fresh-off-the-boat ceviche and cold beverage of choice, which is a much welcomed treat after walking a ways through this hot and humid climate.   Notice also that in the photo, he is in the bike lane and she is in the pedestrian lane, yet they are actually being amicable and friendly.  Perhaps the biggest treat, though, is the fact that walking along this thoroughfare is literally like passing between two worlds- one world of modernity with ultra-modern architectured high-rise buildings (as in the photo), and the other world at the opposite end of the thoroughfare a world of antiquity; the Casco Viejo, Old Town section of Panama City (see my separate Blog on the Casco Viejo by clicking on Dylan's Blog below), containing buildings perhaps as much as 500 years old. 

Directly adjacent to the pedestrian thoroughfare, however, is one of the busiest eaight-lane streets I have ever encountered in my life (although I suppose that it could be considered a boulevard with a planted median).  I did see one cross-walk with painted lines in the street, and no signs.  I did not feel that this was sufficient for a pedestrian at all.  The park is still a work in progress, but in order to be pedestrian friendly, as the photo eludes, there would definitely have to be more cross-walks with signs crossing the eight-lane street (or boulevard).  The amount of traffic that flows through that street would be a challenge to stop for pedestrians, but there must be a way.  The rest of the city could use some work in traffic calming/safety and walkability/pedestrian friendliness too.  

Making urban centers such as this more walkable and pedestrian friendly is an important step in reducing carbon emissions from driving which is a major factor in climate change.

I'm still trying to find the name of this park. I'll let you know when I do.  Meanwhile, check out a few videos on youtube that I made while walking along this thoroughfare.....

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