Madrid Moves Toward a Car-Free Center City

Drivers who don't live in the center city will no longer be able to drive through Madrid's core neighborhoods. Image: City of Madrid
Drivers who don’t live in the center city will no longer be able to drive through Madrid’s core neighborhoods. Map: City of Madrid

Beginning in January, Madrid will enact new policies to keep cars out of almost 500 acres in the core of the city, part of a long-term plan to entirely pedestrianize the center city.

El Pais in Spain is reporting that, unless they live there, drivers will no longer be allowed to enter the city’s four most central neighborhoods. Instead, all outside traffic will be routed along a select few major avenues. The penalty for driving into one of the restricted zones without permission will be 90 Euros, Architecture Daily reports.

The new rule is expected to reduce traffic in the affected areas by at least one third. Motorcycles and delivery vehicles will be able to enter the zones at certain hours.

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón told El Pais, “The main objective is to reduce traffic passing through neighborhoods and looking for parking agitation, while increasing parking spaces for residents.”

The measure is in keeping with the city’s 2020 Mobility Plan, which aims to gradually pedestrianize the city center. Madrid has also raised on-street parking rates and increased the use of speed enforcement cameras in an effort to encourage walking, biking, and transit.

9 thoughts on Madrid Moves Toward a Car-Free Center City

  1. Doesn’t this plan immediately increase the property value of all lots in the 500 “core” acres? As such, is Madrid capturing any of that jump in value?

    If not, one could reasonably argue that this is a transfer of wealth from people outside the core to property owners within the core.

    A similar argument was made by the outer boroughs in NYC. The Bloomber-era congestion pricing plan tried to address this by adding a surcharge to all taxi rides within the core zone.

  2. Most congestion pricing plans usually have exemptions for people with disabilities. Presumably this will apply in Madrid, as well.

    In addition, disabled people can in many cases take transit. As with many places Madrid already offers significant discounts off standard fares to transit riders who have disabilities. Buses and commuter trains into Madrid as well as about half of all metro stations are accessible.

    Last but not least, the lack of autos makes the streets that much safer for those getting around in wheelchairs/mobility scooters/etc.

    Btw, the following vid isn’t from Spain but it raises an important point about how good bike infrastructure can enable more than just trips by bike:

  3. How many cities are doing thesaurus thing? London, Paris? Are some cities doing this for particular residential areas or neighbourhoods?

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