Monday, March 4, 2013

The Shared Streets of Miraflores, Peru

Greetings from Peru!  I am currently sitting on a balcony overlooking the beautiful city of Cusco, Peru sipping a cup of tea and watching the sun slip behind the mountains that surround this place. After 4 days in Miraflores (an upscale and westernized suburb of Lima) of busy city life heavy traffic, fast people and a big day of paragliding the slower pace of Cusco is quite welcome! I mean look at this view!

Cusco, Peru
From Hostel Samay Wasi                           

However, my focus for this post is on Miraflores and its incorporation of shared streets within the city.  Let me elaborate,by shared I mean the same travel corridor is used by normal vehicular traffic, public transport and pedestrians.  Let me begin by saying alot of traffic in Lima is nuts!!   I believe the people of the greater Lima area pride themselves on complete disregard for safety, and their ability to make up traffic rules as they go. For instance, in Lima when a road is striped to be 3 lanes wide this just means if drivers straddle the lines...instant 4 lane road. In addition, brake lights simply indicate to drivers behind the braking vehicle to honk and abruptly swerve around them even if that means going off of the road and tearing through a dirt and gravel parking lot.   I would not advise the the rental of a car in Lima, however if it is unavoidable, a solid insurance rider is a must.

Not all of Lima is awful in terms of traffic.  There are several streets that are less hectic and constructed to accommodate pedestrians and even provide enough separation to help them, feel safe from the city traffic. First off Malecon Balta. This road travels north south and stretches from the inland center of Miraflores to the coast. The coast in this area is different than most. The ocean meets the land at about 1000 feet below the elevation of the city. The area is built up on top of a rocky cliff, but Malecon Balta splits off to serve both the areas at the top and base of the cliff.

The Coast of Miraflores

The route to the base of the cliff side city is particularly beautiful. The road curves around providing a beautiful view of the ocean. The street is made of cobblestone and some flat pavers were installed in the areas for the tires to provide for a smoother ride. The wide median has nice light fixtures and curbed planters. The pedestrian access along this corridor is separated from the traffic by lawn and plantings. In some places the sidewalk is even elevated to provide further separation from the vehicular traffic.  This is a beautiful place to walk and at the end of the stroll you reach the Pacific Ocean, not too shabby.

Malecon Balta

Regular Sidewalk with Retaining Wall
Constructed Conditions Change based on Space Available

Tree Lawn and Elevated Sidewalk

Curbed Median, Lighting, and Curbed Planters

View from Left Side of Malecon Balta

Overall Street Section View
Left to Right: 6' Sidewalk, ~18' Travel Lane, 5' Width Curbed Cobblestone Median with Planters and Lighting,
~18' Travel Lane, 6' Tree Lawn, 10' Elevated Sidewalk

Bridge over Malecon Balta at Sunset
Lower Portion with Ocean Access
             The other road I would like to highlight is more centrally located within the city.  Av. Jose Pardo travels west to east and is an extremely busy vehicular corridor. This stretch of road connects two traffic circles or 'ovalos' and is lined with the common city fare of banks, condos, restaurants, and offices. There is a very wide median separating the two sides of vehicular traffic and provides pedestrians with a central walking corridor surrounded by trees, shrubs and lawn. It is not possible to forget 100% that you are in the middle of the bustling city but the walk is quite pleasant.

Av. Jose Pardo
Central Pedestrian Walk
Looking East
Central Pedestrian Walk
Looking West
Miraflores surprised me and although the traffic was insane, the atmosphere and people made for a very nice stay!

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