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Safety advocate dusts off his proposal to create pedestrian streets

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Police close streets for Biciruta each Sunday, which gives some observers an idea to improve the pedestrian flow in Mérida’s Centro. Photo: Diario de Yucatán

Mérida, Yucatán — It’s a global trend that’s already proven successful here, when done on a smaller scale.

That’s enough for road safety engineer René Flores Ayora to re-introduce his proposal to the public: Permanently close down more of the downtown’s first frame to vehicular traffic in favor of pedestrians.

The more pedestrian areas in the city, the less traffic accidents will occur, says Flores Ayora. Additionally, pedestrian streets help promote commerce and can even be linked to health benefits, because walking reduces cardiovascular problems.

His study, “Mérida, Pedestrian City,” came out last year, recommending a modest no-car-zone rollout. He suggests closing Calle 58, from 63 to 67, to cars. These two blocks are crammed with shops, between the Plaza Grande and the main market area.

A proposal to devote two blocks of the Centro shopping district to foot traffic. Staff graphic built on a Google map.

The strip is near other well-used pedestrian areas: Pasaje Revolución (between the Cathedral and the Macay museum), Pasaje Emilio Seijo (Calle 63-A between 60 and 68), Segunda Calle Nueva (63-A between 56 and 58), Eulogio Rosado and the Edificio de Correos, both near the city’s main market.

Avenida Francisco Madero, a pedestrian street in Mexico City. Photo: Flickr

The proposal’s author points to Rue St. Catherine in Bordeaux, France, which became a pedestrian zone in 1976, or the Avenida Francisco Madero in Mexico City as two successful and safe shopping zones.

Mérida has already been conditioned to large-scale street closures. Long stretches of Calle 60 and the Paseo de Montejo close down each Sunday for BiciRuta, which should be a positive indicator of the plan’s potential, he said.

Source: Diario de Yucatán

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