Our lifestyle is closely related, among other things, to the travel methods we use to carry out our activities (work, study, leisure, etc.). We know well that we make extensive use of cars, perhaps even when there is no real need. We really like them, it actually has some positive aspects (autonomy in the first place), which, however, especially in urban trips, are often overcome by other important negative elements suffered by the driver (time lost in parking queue, difficulty and parking costs, etc.).
The need to balance the right to mobility of each one of us, and the right to have a quality of life not negatively influenced by traffic impacts (especially if we don’t contribute to generating it), therefore, implies the search for a difficult balance.
The city is a system whose proper functioning depends on the reciprocal relationship between its physical and social components. Designing parts of the city also means designing the space of mobility and guaranteeing good conditions of accessibility to all citizens (including those who do not own a car). The difficulty of movement and access to goods and services generates new forms of marginality, inequity, and social unrest.
The problem of vehicular traffic in El Salvador
Vehicular traffic is now an integral part of urban life, it conditions our habits, subtracts time from social relationships and affections, causes stress, harms health. Every day on average many people die in car accidents (including several pedestrians) and many others are injured. The pollution produced by cars takes thousands of victims every year.
In addition to social and environmental damage, we must also remember the economic costs associated with owning and maintaining private vehicles: each Salvadoran family spends an average of around 60 dollars per month on gasoline. Furthermore, the economic value of time lost in traffic can be estimated on the basis of millions of dollars on a national level.
Alternatives to car use are often not attractive. Public transport and bicycle mobility do not always receive the attention they deserve from the population, not only due to lack of resources but, very often, due to the appropriate technical skills and the insecurity that the country is experiencing.
Unlike other Latin American countries, El Salvador suffers from a strong collective transport deficit. The measures taken so far by both the government and private companies are completely insufficient to guarantee adequate service to demand, in terms of quality and quantity.
In the absence of viable alternatives, the car remains the preferred mode of transportation by Salvadorans, although many would be willing to use public transport for the same travel time. However, the low comfort of travel and the danger to which each Salvadoran is exposed makes it an unattractive option.
Digital platforms, such as H.appyCities , study how to solve this type of problem in Salvadoran society. For more information, you can register in our newsletter here.
By Kathy Nativi