As we recently discussed on TheCityFix, momentum is building for open streets in cities worldwide. Across seven Indian cities, tens of thousands of citizens are taking back their streets during weekly car-free days. Similar open streets events now occur in over 100 cities worldwide, improving public health and advancing the cause for sustainable urban mobility.
Cities are taking note of the benefits of people-oriented streets, and some are permanently closing streets to cars. In Istanbul, pedestrianization throughout the city’s Historic Peninsula has turned streets into attractive public spaces, gaining strong citizen approval. The Mayor of Paris recently announced plans to ban cars from the city center, and Helsinki and Hamburg are planning to make cars obsolete in the next 15 to 20 years.
In this vein, the following article from our colleagues at TheCityFix Brasil details Madrid’s plans to make its urban core more people-oriented.
For residents of Madrid, Spain, the New Year mean’s a more livable environment. With the start of 2015 comes a new rule banning cars from circulating in central Madrid. The measure is part of the city’s sustainable mobility plan, which is projected to reduce the share of daily trips by private vehicles from 29% to 23% by 2020. The ambitious plan is a major step towards making the city’s heart more people-oriented, with less pollution and more freedom for people to move about safely.
Drivers in Madrid’s four most central neighborhoods are excluded from the ban, and delivery trucks to local commerce may also enter at certain times. Unfortunately for traffic safety advocates, motorcycles will still be allowed on these streets. Other drivers who ignore the new rule will pay a fine of approximately US$107.
The restriction is particularly important given that during peak hours, 75% of commuters traveling to work in Madrid’s central business areas use private vehicles, and on average, each private vehicle carries only 1.1 people. The benefits of pedestrianization extend beyond local residents to tourists as well, since Madrid’s center contains important sights such as Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.
Earlier this year, TheCityFix Brasil covered Madrid’s sustainable urban mobility plan. Among other measures, the plan calls for expanding pedestrianized areas by 25%, new bus-only lanes, a smart Regulated Parking Service for cars, and an increase in the electric public bicycle fleet.