Lately, there’s been a pushback against cars from urbanists and city authorities alike. The architect Jan Gehl founded his urban philosophy on the idea that cities have been mistakenly designed for cars, not people; while cities like Suwon, South Korea and Chengdong, China have held car-free days with an eye to reducing the number of vehicles in the city.
Now, it’s Madrid’s turn. At the end of September, Ana Botella, the city’s mayor, announced that non-resident cars will be banned from most roads in the city centre from 1 January next year. The city already operates a car exclusion zone, but the new measure will increase its size from 192 hectares to 350 hectares. From El Pais:
“Vehicles that do not belong to those who live in the Priority Residential Area (APR)... will only be able to travel along the zone’s main thoroughfares. Drivers heading in to park in one of the APR’s 13 enclosed parking lots will have access, but City Hall will check license plates using 22 cameras in order to slap anyone who does not park with a fine of €90.”
Motorcycles, however, will still have free reign between 7am and 10pm.
Here’s a map of the new exclusion zone, drawn up by City Hall:
The main purpose of the new measure is to cut air pollution in the city, which has been getting steadily worse of late. That’s due partly to the number of older cars on the roads since the recession kicked in: nearly 45 per cent of cars on Spain’s roads are now over 10 years old.
The mayor has other plans, too: initially, to increase the space for bus lanes and pedestrian walkways, with the goal of making the city essentially car-free by 2020.
It remains to be seen whether these plans will enrage motorists’ rights groups of the kind active in San Francisco, who recently protested passionately against, er, a slight reduction in the number of parking spaces on offer.