Quito Traffic and Pollution leads to "Pico y Placa" Law

Monday, November 24 2013

As vibrant and exciting as Quito is – a beautiful mess of sparkling roofs pressed tightly into a mountainous range – a cloud of smog hangs over the city.

The problem? Too many coches. Not only does it make for unbelievably congested roads on a daily basis but it also contributes harshly to the pollution that, to an extent, suffocates the city.

Want proof? On days when I wear sandals, I come home and my feet are black. At the end of every day out and about, I look down at my nails and they’re filthy.

But the dirt under my fingernails doesn’t bother me Personally as much as the fact that it feels like we’re slowly killing the little bits of green the city hasn’t built up on yet! I’m concerned for you, Quito!

Thankfully, government has taken drastic efforts in an attempt to reduce traffic and gas emission. There are many environmental organizations at work. One of them my friend volunteers at – a foundation where they encourage people to ride their bikes as often as possible. They are especially pushing for women to get out and cycle, as culturally, a much smaller female percentage are bikers in this country.

Most surprisingly, however, is the “Pico y Placa” law, stating that during certain morning hours and evening hours (essentially, rush hour) – one day a week (depending on the first # on your license plate) – you are not permitted to drive. This is hugely problematic for people who need to get to work on a daily basis. Often people forget and are charged with a heavy fine.

Numerous police are scattered throughout the highway to keep an eye out for cars that shouldn’t be on the road that day. It sounds like a terribly controlled way of taking care of the issue, but I guess it shows just what a serious problem it is to Quiteños.

I sure hope it’s making a difference.

The good news? My host father is already a senior citizen and no longer has to abide!

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