What a shame. This large main traffic artery is undergoing a pedestrian remodel construction project with new sidewalk pavers being installed along the many shops on Via Espana. There used to be many trees providing shade but they have been mostly cut down to make way for a wider pedestrian sidewalk. Available parking is minimal, with delivery trucks often blocking the tight parallel access roads, which divide the wide sidewalk along the street and the small sidewalk along the stores. The idea to provide more pedestrian access has backfired, because people avoid the wide but hot, unshaded sidewalk along the street and shuffle along the small ones beside the stores with awnings in search of shade. If you want to cross the street to look at another store, you have a choice of one pedestrian overpass with an impossibly small stairwell near the Rey supermarket, or taking your life into your own hands by jumping from the high curb onto the street and hoping for a traffic lull. There are a few widely spaced traffic lights, but they only serve Via Espana, not the cross streets. Via Espana is most definitely NOT pedestrian friendly. I hope the urban planners will not make the same mistakes with the upcoming renovation of the adjacent beautiful tree-lined Via Argentina project.
It is one of the main four to six lane arteries of modern Panama city and serves to access the skyscraper area by car or bus. Currently large parts of it are being renovated, but the main purpose remains to make things easier for cars. Panamanian city planners seem to follow the USA example which is very much inflenced by the interests of car makers and oil lobbies. I wished they would have planted more trees and made more green zones. Now it is all stone and asphalt, with some glass and metal. These materials absorb and/or reflect the heat, which means that from about noon Via Espana is bloody hot and very unpleasant for pedestrians, not to mention cyclists. It is as if the municipal authorities did everything within their ability to discourage people from walking or moving around themselves. No wonder obesity is on the rise in Panama. For those who venture outside the car, bus or metro at night: via Espana is safe.
Via España is the extension of the Central Avenue, and it's one of the most important avenues en Panama city. In Latin America, all of our countries have this avenues that are madness during peak hours. But this is part of getting around in Panama.
We drove along Via Espana many times trying to find our hotel. There seemed to be interesting action along the street, with a lot of shops, restaurants and bars. A new metro too. Avenida Aquilino de la Guardia joined Via Espana but the left turn into a narrow ally was not marked. We will explore the offerings on Via Espana when we return. It does look like a nicer part of the city.