I love walking around the centre of Madrid.
I love doing it even more when there aren't any cars in the way.
Since I've been living here, the centre of Madrid has been a congested, polluted and dirty place.
The reason: Cars.
Sidewalks are narrow in this part of the city and you'd often find yourself having to walk down the middle of the street because of the crowds.
Then came Madrid Central.
Madrid Central is an ambitious project to limit the type and amount of cars that are allowed to enter the centre of the city.
The area is not completely pedestrianised. Residents and low-emission vehicles are allowed to circulate. But the rest of us are confined to public parking garages and using public transport.
"How dare they", I hear you saying, but I have to say that Madrid is a better city for the change.
The Gran Via has been widened and now we have more room to window shop on Madrid's most emblematic street.
There also seem to be more people than ever at weekends and public holidays. I imagine they appreciate the car and pollution free environment.
Yet Madrid Central seems to have its days numbered. Many politicians are gunning for it. Why? Because it is 'too progressive' in the eyes of many.
'Madrileños' love their cars. They don't have to use them. Madrid's public transport system is one of the best in the world but there are people here who think that it's a human right to be able to take your car wherever and whenever you want.
Don't get me wrong. I have a car and I use it most days. However, I never take it to the centre of the city. Why would you?
Some politicians here want us to believe that cars are something that give the city character. One recently said that a Madrid without traffic jams at 3am was not really Madrid. The city had lost its charm.
Seeing lots of cars give her the impression that the city is pumping with life. Remove them and the city dies.
I recently wrote a blog post on the dangers of riding a bike in Madrid. Why is it dangerous? Obviously, because of cars.
Madrid has the potential to be an even better city by keeping cars out of its centre. Madrid Central is the first step.
I understand that it's complicated. Especially when an important part of our economies depend on our ability to get things moving quickly.
Other cities in Spain have taken bigger steps forward when it comes to pedestrianisation. Pontevedra and Vitoria are cities that have tackled the problem head on.
Yes, they are small cities compared to Madrid but are these solutions not scalable?
The streets in central Madrid are not car friendly anyway. Let's take the stress out of the driver's lives and force them to use public transport.
And if you don't want to get dirty on a bus or the Metro, you can catch a cab or a cabify.
Madrid seems destined to become the European city that could have been a leader in pollution control.
The newly elected regressive government has just said that Madrid Central is to be 'put on hold' as of 1 July 2019.
Cars that start circulating in that area from that date will no longer be fined. In other words, back to the chaos of old.
As I said before, Madrid is better for Madrid Central, in my opinion. But that's life here in Spain.
Some things are just too radical in the eyes of some. Let's hope the EU can stop the madness.
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