Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trippin' up the hill to Lakamha

There are several alternative travel modes available to get to the Palenque site. My preferred way is the "combi" which costs only 10 pesos. But how are other people finding their way there? It is less than 10 miles from the modern city also named Palenque. When one begins the trip up into the site, its an uphill struggle by foot, so many people want motorized transportation to there. Lots of Mexican families are on vacation now and they tend to bring their cars, although many are arriving in tour package buses.
To determine the modes that people are using to get Lakamha, I have begun an effort to sample trip modes (what kind of vehicle are people using). It will come as no surprise to know that so far (and my sampling is not yet complete) I have found that 58 percent of all the vehicles that enter the site parking lot are private vehicles. But this is a third world country, right (is this still true of Mexico?) I don't know much about Mexico's economy, but I do know that they love their cars! This does not mean that more PEOPLE come into the site by private car, on the contrary, most people are coming in on the large luxury buses like this one.
What this large percent of private vehicles means is there are not enough parking spaces in the small lot up the hill next to the site, so people are parking on the road "shoulders". This road is the only one into the site.
In reality, the road has no shoulders. When it was built several years ago, at least one ancient grave was disturbed and the new road was carved into several of the ancient buildings. Widening it now is unthinkable, so other traffic management tools must be found -- it is an obvious safety issue.
It would help if parking were restricted to one side of the street, but this is not the case. In addition, people who have parked their cars are getting out and walking up in the street to get to the park entrance because there is no other place to walk, thus creating conflicts between the pedestrian, the car and the bus. I am told that there are plans to create a park and ride lot near the Panchan entrance, but the funds may not be available for a while and building a parking lot takes time. No need to worry, I am told, after all the problems are only due to vacation season, right? In a couple of months, all will be back to normal and the traffic problems will go away. OK, maybe so, but we should pray that no one looses their lives in the meantime.
I suggest that this is a wake-up call for what the future might look like within the next 20 years. Too many cars and people on a road too narrow and curvy.

No comments: