Borja Carabante: “We have increased bicycle parking spaces in Madrid by 23.2% since 2019”

We interviewed Borja Carabante, Delegate of the Environment and Mobility Area of Madrid City Council.

The Madrid 360 Mobility Plan sets ambitious targets for the city, such as a 65% reduction in CO2 emissions or a 10% reduction in road traffic. What are the key measures that will be implemented to achieve these targets?

The Madrid Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan brings together the Madrid 360 Environmental Sustainability Strategy and the two ordinances that support it (Sustainable Mobility ordinance, the Air Quality and Sustainability ordinance), the Roadmap for Climate Neutrality, the EMT Strategic Plan and the Strategic Road Safety Plan 2021-2023.

We are making progress in improving public transport, improving sustainability with the creation of low-emission zones, improving infrastructure such as the remodelling of Nudo Norte. We are also improving road safety by taking into account the most vulnerable groups and moving towards the 0 casualty target.

We will also continue to make progress in integrating all the new players in the evolving mobility ecosystem, using new technologies.

The implementation of the Low Emission Special Protection Zones in Centro and Plaza Elíptica, Madrid as a Low Emission Zone from 2025, the pedestrianisation of Sol, the high rotation parking spaces, the reform of the Nudo Norte, decarbonising the capital by eliminating coal-fired boilers… Undoubtedly, the ordinances on which our actions are based, Sustainable Mobility and Air Quality and Sustainability, place Madrid as one of the European capitals that is working hardest in these areas. These are objective data, with which our municipal technicians work and which push us to continue in this work line. For example, the Sustainable Mobility Ordinance will reduce 1,563 tonnes of nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere annually, according to the Polytechnic University, or the application of the ZBEDEP in Plaza Elíptica will reduce traffic by 18%, eliminating 1,472 vehicles at morning rush hours. I believe this is the way we need to follow and which we will continue to work on progressively until January 1, 2025, the date when the entire city will be a low-emission zone.

You have recently announced the second call for subsidies to reduce emissions from freight vehicles. How necessary is it to promote this change to reduce emissions from freight transport? What was the response to the first call?

The Urban Distribution of Goods accounts for 10% of the fleet, 20% of traffic congestion and 30% of pollution and is therefore an essential pillar on which the new sustainable mobility strategy should be based and is a tool at the service of a lower-carbon city, but from the government’s point of view we must help companies to make this energy transition. But we are talking about transition and not rupture of the productive and economic model and that is why we have launched the aid of the Cambia 360 Plan.

This year with the aid for the acquisition of polluting vehicles, we have raised the aid per applicant and vehicle. For heavy goods vehicles between 20 % and 75 %, but also for distribution with bicycles, mopeds and motorbikes, increasing from 16,7 % to 33 %.

From the City Council we have launched this grant of 2 million euros, but also with the possibility that they can benefit from grants from other administrations or even increase by 3,000 euros the one we offer, if the applicant scraps another vehicle without environmental classification.

In the same way, you have also opened the same call for private vehicles, to which you will allocate 10.5 million euros. How important is this economic incentive?

Essential, but not only because the City Council considers it so, but also because the requests overflowed in 2021. That’s why, this year we have doubled the amount, because the people of Madrid demand it and we must listen to their demands. In 2021 the subsidy was 5.5 million euros and this year 10.5. For the purchase of ECO vehicles, the City Council has provided a credit of 7 million euros. For ZERO emission vehicles, EUR 3 million and for vehicles with environmental classification C there is a total subsidy credit of EUR 500,000. This year the credit was also exhausted in a matter of hours, which is why we have increased the credit by EUR 4 million.

On occasion, you have pointed out the importance of improving public transport in a city like Madrid, which has 12 million commuters. What do you plan to encourage its use?

We have created 7 new lines, such as the 170 line linking the PAUs in the north of the city and the first zero-emission, zero-cost line for passengers, which was launched in February 2020. This was followed under the same conditions by line 002, which connects Puerta de Toledo and Argüelles, and the Line that bypasses the district of Centro, C03.

Another of the measures that we have implemented with a great response from the people of Madrid is the free policy at specific times such as going back to school after summer and Christmas.

What is the role of the bicycle in the sustainable future model in Madrid?

Sustainable mobility unquestionably involves the use of personal mobility vehicles such as bicycles, which is why Bicimad is carrying out a true metamorphosis. We have earmarked 48.8 million euros for a complete technological overhaul of the system in the first half of 2023. It will involve renewing the Bicimad fleet, the stations, and technologically improving the mobile management application for users.

We want to offer the people of Madrid real alternatives, which is why we will extend the system to all the districts of the capital with the implementation of 600 bases and 7,500 vehicles.

On infrastructure, we are committed to expanding it. We are currently building the first section of the Castellana bike lane, between Plaza Castilla and Raimundo Fernández Villaverde.

One of the needs detected with the growth of bicycle use in large cities is the demand for bicycle parking in cities. What are Madrid’s forecasts about?

The current network of bicycle racks in the city of Madrid has been the result of a work programme from two different work streams. On the one hand, on our own initiative, we have created a network of bicycle racks based on the main trip generators, but we have also done so in response to requests from private citizens and institutions of all kinds.

The Sustainable Mobility Ordinance, approved in September 2021, regulates bicycle parking and other personal mobility vehicles. We have increased bicycle parking spaces by 23.2% since 2019. We have a total of 12,970 places in 1402 locations.

At the end of March, work started on the Castellana segregated lane, which will involve 4.25 km of bike lane from Plaza Castilla to Raimundo Fdez. Villaverde once the works are finished in 2023, what value do you give to this new cycling infrastructure?

This corridor will increase the number of cycling daily commuting on the new axis by 3,000, reaching 4,000 journeys. And this without forgetting the pedestrians, for whom 27,000 sqm and five new zebra crossings are being created. Currently, there are 56,000 pedestrian commuters per day in this area, so we consider that this intervention is very necessary to encourage both cycling and pedestrian mobility.

We cannot stop talking about sustainable mobility and micro-mobility in cities without mentioning the e-scooter and the unstoppable growth of its use. How have you dealt with this visible change in the dynamics of mobility?

Promoting sustainable mobility is key for this corporation and micromobility is part of it. This year we have launched the second edition of the Cambia 360 Aid Plan with an investment of €500,000 to purchase micro-mobility vehicles, including e-scooters.

This is accompanied by the creation of new parking facilities throughout the city. As I said before, we have 12,970 places.

But from the City Council we have to ensure compliance with the Sustainable Mobility Ordinance that regulates how to move and where to park, so we have also launched information campaigns to make it clear to users what they can and cannot do.

Scooters are required to circulate on bike lanes, cycle streets, 30 zones and streets with a speed limit of 30 km/h. They may not use footpaths, pedestrian zones, 50 km/h lanes or bus lanes. In the multimodal lane – the bike lanes – it’s only allowed to ride with a helmet. When passing close to pedestrians footpath-bike lanes, cycle lanes, 20 zones, single-platform streets or paths of more than three metres in parks, a distance of one metre must be kept.

To park, their site is in the reserves and parking strips. On footpaths only when there is no specific reservation for less than 50 metres and a free passage width of three metres remains. Parking is prohibited on pedestrian streets, in the vicinity of bus stops and reserved parking areas for people with reduced mobility.

Recently, 10 new parking spaces for Carsharing were inaugurated in the city, a phenomenon that is still residual in Spain but that can contribute to optimizing car commuting. What role do you attribute to this form of mobility in the modal change necessary to achieve the SDGs 2030?

Carsharing in Spain may still be residual, but in Madrid it is an established form of mobility. I believe that the capital is heading towards a hybrid transport model that combines the different options that citizens have to get from one place to another through sustainable modes. It is clear that there will always be external factors, situations in which an individual chooses one or another way of commuting, but the challenge is that intermodality is a real option and that the people of Madrid choose according to their needs.


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