Last week I sang the praises of my adopted city by looking at 7 things it gets completely right. In the pursuit of balance, here are 6 things that Curitiba gets completely wrong.
The pavements are a disgrace here. You rarely see anyone walking, and this is at least partly because it is so bloody dangerous. I have heard lots of stories about people falling over on loose paving stones or having to walk in the middle of the road because the pavements are taken up by parked cars. You almost never see anyone in a wheelchair, or elderly people so I have no idea how isolated they must feel if they don’t have anyone to drive them around.
And when you do find a nice bit of pavement, somebody has probably parked their car on it.
2. Public Works
All public works take forever. If they tell you it is going to take a year, it will take at least two, maybe three. And it is quite possible that it will never be finished.
The coach station is undergoing a huge refurbishment which was supposed to have been finished in December 2012 (Source in Portuguese) but is now predicted to end in May 2014, if we are lucky.
I often go to the coach station with my son to look at all the coaches and it is amazing how few people I see working there. That might be explicable if they were using lots of machinery, but, apart from a few tractors, everything is being done by hand and wheelbarrow.
Unfortunately, everything that was planned for the World Cup is either tragically late, will only be finished after the games are over, or have been cancelled all together.
There are lots of parks around the city, but none of them have decent playgrounds for kids to play in. If they have anything at all it will be a steel slide with jagged edges or a climbing frame in a sand-pit which also acts as the local toilet for all the wildlife in the area. Dirty and dangerous.
There just aren’t enough of them. We have the same number of taxis today as we did in 1974, and in that time the city has tripled in size. (Source in Portuguese)
5. The Metro
There seems to be this idea that the only way Curitiba can be taken seriously as a major city is if they have a metro system. This will cost billions, not produce any solutions to the traffic problems because it will only consist of one line and take far longer than necessary (see point 3 above). If they took the same money and invested it in their already very good bus system they would really have something to crow about.
6. Electricity pylons
The local government or the electricity providers (each one blames the other as far as I can tell) refuses to put the city’s electricity cables under the ground. Instead, we have all the electricity running on pylons above the streets.
This makes the city look ugly, but worse than this is that every time we have a storm the cables fall down and we get power cuts. Towards the end of 2013 we had 4 afternoon storms which lasted between 10 and 40 minutes. Each one resulted in a power cut that lasted a minimum of 4 hours. It particularly irked me because I had deadlines looming and no computer or internet.
There’s probably plenty of other stuff as well, after all every city is crap at something. These are the ones that attract my ire, but if you know Curitiba and can think of any others, just leave a comment below.