BlogBeat

Visualizing a Walkable City in Spain

Visualizing a Walkable City in Spain

by Eduardo Ares
Polis

A public square in Pontevedra, Spain. Source: Turespaña

The city of Pontevedra in northwest Spain has become a leader in walker-friendly urban policy over the past 15 years. In light of its relative anonymity and population of 83,000, one might find it difficult to imagine the traffic congestion that prompted this transformation.

However, as the capital of its province, county and municipality, Pontevedra attracted enough automobile commuters each day to overwhelm its antiquated streets.

Instead of razing old buildings and constructing bigger roads, the city council began taking proactive measures to reduce traffic.

They widened sidewalks, established a free bike-lending service, installed speed bumps and set a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour throughout the city. They even banned motorized transport in sections of Pontevedra. Walking zones now extend from the historic center to streets and squares in newer neighborhoods.

Although the driving ban initially faced resistance, it is now broadly supported and has become an essential part of the city’s identity as an attractive place to live.

Pontevedra’s Metrominuto Map. Source: Pontevedra City Council

To further improve walkability, Pontevedra’s city council produced a map that visualizes the distances and travel times between key places on foot at an average speed of five kilometers per hour. Known as Metrominuto, the map has color-coded lines that resemble those of a subway guide.

The pink line from Peregrina Square shows that it takes about 14 minutes to walk from there to the train and bus stations. Free parking areas are marked to encourage visitors to leave their cars outside the city center.

According to the map, someone who parks in the free lot near the police station can get to Peregrina Square in less than eight minutes via Santiago Bridge. Metrominuto reminds residents and visitors that many automobile trips can be made in a more convenient, environmentally friendly and healthy way by walking.

A banner listing distances and travel times from the Metrominuto Map. Source: Eduardo Ares

The Metrominuto initiative recently won an award from Intermodes, the organizers of an international transport convention for the European Congress, who explained: “Metrominuto is an idea that can be easily transposed in cities that have 80,000 inhabitants (or less), of which there are more in Europe than there are very large conurbations.”

Pontevedra’s urban restructuring program has also earned accolades from the Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities and the Spanish Directorate General of Traffic.

Pontevedra’s walker-oriented initiatives raise questions as to how they came into being and how they’ve influenced living conditions in the city. Researching these questions should tell us whether Intermodes’ recommendation is warranted, offering insights into the potential for similar initiatives in other cities around the world.

Eduardo Ares is a doctoral candidate in computer science at the University of A Coruña in Galicia, Spain.

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

BlogBeat

More in BlogBeat

Race_FINAL_shea_walsh_web

Discussing Race Helps Black, Latino Boys, Study Says

Latina ListaApril 16, 2015
vds2013_0233__mg_7135

Report: Access to Health Care is Improving for Hispanics, but More Work Remains

Latina ListaApril 13, 2015
juvenile_detention_JW035_jpg_800x1000_q100

New report finds child incarceration of non-violent offenses still widespread

Latina ListaApril 10, 2015
mylingo-800x500_c

Watch movies in your language with myLINGO

Latina ListaApril 8, 2015
shampoo2_1170-copy-770x460

Even ‘green’ products may pollute indoor air

Latina ListaApril 6, 2015
71895_10150280100440246_294979630245_15331381_3068936_n

Anglo bilingual rapper unites his passions for music and bilingualism in Bilingual Nation U.S.A.

Latina ListaMarch 24, 2015
10982437_1595823167316405_8133744735406516917_n

Georgetown Considers Opening New ‘Casa Latina’

Latina ListaMarch 23, 2015
10987448_1576244972589976_530797874384183044_n

Tucson Indigenous Adobe Initiative: Teaching the past to build homes for the future

Latina ListaMarch 20, 2015
Girl smoking a cigarette

Study: Latinos, Blacks More Likely to Pick Up Smoking Habit in Their 20s

Latina ListaMarch 17, 2015