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Pontevedra, the city that managed to beat the cars

20 years Ago a city in the northwest corner of the Peninsula began to move in the opposite direction to the rest of the planet. Pontevedra, a city of galicia of

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Pontevedra, the city that managed to beat the cars

20 years Ago a city in the northwest corner of the Peninsula began to move in the opposite direction to the rest of the planet. Pontevedra, a city of galicia of 82,000 inhabitants invaded then as all the cars, the noise, the fumes and the double row, initiated a plan to peatonalizar and limiting access on wheels to the historic centre and the Ensanche, received with nails and teeth for a good part of residents and merchants. Today, with traffic only allowed a fourth part of the town, the neighbors have moved from protests to ask the city Council to extend the restrictions.

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The pontevedreses have discovered that it is possible to escape from the jungle of asphalt. The 80,000 vehicles that were taking on a daily basis the city centre at the end of the nineties have been reduced to 7,000, and 1.3 million square meters of streets have been returned to pedestrians. The government of Miguel Anxo Fernandez Lores, mayor of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG), which launched the project in 1999 and which is still in the office, argues that the peatonalizaciones without more do not work and which should be accompanied by a comprehensive plan to organize the movement throughout the city. “Here we prioritized only the necessary traffic: access to garages, loading and unloading, public transport and the individual services of private vehicles,” explains the councilman.

To get rid of the loop of cars that are going around waiting for that to work the miracle of finding parking in the centre is not allowed to park in surface or even paying for it (there is no ORA). The only thing that reserves are a few free places for efforts fast that you can only stay 15 minutes. In the accesses, the addresses are kept the traffic to the roads and prevent vehicles that enter by the north pass through the center to exit on the south. And to temper the desire to run of the conductors, the whole of Pontevedra is area 30, the traffic lights are replaced by roundabouts, the steps of pedestrians are high and the lanes more narrow.

“We are the only city in the world in which the pedestrians cross zebra crossings without looking, because the cars always stop”, often repeat Verísimo Pazos, vice-president of the Federation of Associations Veciñais Castelao. The inhabitants of Pontevedra, have realized that in a town like yours the shortest distance is usually the one that is walking. Handle a map named as Metrominuto that, with a format similar to that used by certain cities to the metro, reports about the time it takes going to walk from one point to another. According to data from the city Council, the legs are the means of transport chosen by 90% of the neighbors to make the purchase, and 80% of the kids to go to class.

Since the local government stress that with all these measures, the traffic has gained in fluency and the city centre, unlike in other cities, it grows in population and economic activity. Michael Lake is a merchant and neighbour of the centre and was one of the that you received with skepticism by the restrictions to traffic 20 years ago. Resides in the calle Benito Corbal, which is “like the Gran Via in Madrid”, and today is considered an “insider”. “The customers are going to establishments [commercial] walk, go by car to the McAuto,” said the also president of the umbrella organization for the merchants of the monumental zone. “A trade is valued by the amount of people that passes in front of the business on foot. For us it is a problem the electronic commerce, not the pedestrianization”.

The city Council calculated that the CO2 emissions have been reduced in Pontevedra 67%, which is equivalent to 500 kg per capita and year. According to the report The air quality in the Spanish State during 2016 of Ecologists in Action, the city holds the annual averages of all parameters (PM10, PM2,5, nitrogen dioxide, ground-level ozone and sulfur dioxide) below the ceilings set by the World Health Organization (WHO). And the residents lead a healthier life. “We encourage people to walk as a minimum of between 7,000 and 10,000 steps as recommended by WHO”, presumed to be the mayor, a doctor by profession.

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