We live in a U.S. city with a major river running through it similar to Cuenca. And, the shorelines have been improved to include walkways, benches etc. There is also a bi-annual trash pick up to keep it clean.
Using my own experience as a baseline I wasn't expecting much knowing how trashy riverways can get in many developing countries.
I must say Rio Tomebamba is an exception. They have cleaned up the trash, planted grasses along the river banks, installed walkways and benches. It's a centerpiece for the city, a model for other cities to follow and job well done.
It feels absolutely safe to walk there during the daytime. I'd avoid nighttime as I've heard there have been some robberies.
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