Transport acts towards Logroño for eliminating bike lanes and investigates 14 extra cities | Environment | EUROtoday

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Logroño bike lanes
Work to get rid of the bike lane on Avenida de Portugal in Logroño, in August 2023.Logroño en Bici – Ecologistas en Acción (the LeB-EeA)

“The Portugal Avenue lane is going to be removed […] so that the street once again has the logic of circulation.” In July 2023, the deputy mayor of Logroño (PP), Celia Sanz, thus supplied an instance of the actions of a number of right-wing councils, which debuted that 12 months by eliminating bike and bus lanes to offer more room to the automobile. A month later, the infrastructure—put in place solely half a 12 months earlier—was destroyed. Now, the Ministry of Transport has despatched a decision to the Logroño City Council – to which EL PAÍS has had entry – to reject these adjustments and warn it that if it doesn’t construct the deliberate lanes it must return the European subsidy of 6.5 million obtained. prematurely for actions in favor of sustainable mobility. Óscar Puente's division is investigating 14 different cities for these causes. “The non-compliant municipalities will have to return the money and may also face a penalty of up to three times the amount of the subsidy,” the Secretary General of Sustainable Mobility, Álvaro Fernández Heredia, explains to EL PAÍS.

The Spanish Executive mobilized 1.5 billion euros from European Next Generation funds in two calls (2022 and 2023) to advertise the event of sustainable city mobility with bike lanes, pedestrianization, low-emission zones or bus lanes. Any modification to those initiatives requires prior approval from the Ministry of Transportation, one thing that, in lots of instances, has not occurred.

In truth, Logroño eradicated the infrastructure of Portugal Avenue in August, constructed with tactical urbanism and which he supposed to consolidate with European funds. Later, in a number of petitions – from September 2023 to February 2024 – he requested to change the East-West Cycling Axis. Despite not having a response from the ministry, the City Council destroyed the protected bike lane to make extra room for vehicles and changed it with a shared area between vehicles and bicycles. In addition, he has requested to not construct the extension of the A-13 bridge to accommodate a biking and pedestrian reference to the excuse that the Government of La Rioja is constructing one other biking bridge about two kilometers away. In addition, he needs to cease finishing up the only platform motion – placing the street and sidewalk on the identical stage – on Sagasta Street.

Bike lane on Portugal Avenue in Logroño when it was in operation.
Bike lane on Portugal Avenue in Logroño when it was in operation. Logroño en Bici – Ecologistas en Acción (the LeB-EeA)

The ministry's technicians perceive that Logroño is asking to make three very far-reaching modifications, “which respond to no objective technical criteria, nor to unexpected actions, but rather to a change in municipal criteria, which is not admissible.” As an instance, they spotlight the destruction of the central a part of the East-West Cycle Axis: “They talk about the loading and unloading of a theater, which existed before, and the installation of some underground containers that the City Council itself put in later. None of them are circumstances that arise once the project is approved.”

Current appearance of Portugal Avenue in Logroño, now with two lanes of motorized traffic.
Current look of Portugal Avenue in Logroño, now with two lanes of motorized site visitors. Logroño en Bici – Ecologistas en Acción (the LeB-EeA)

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Julio Romero, spokesperson for Logroño en bici, considers that these actions are carried out out of “political revenge” by the municipal crew: “We had a technical model like that of Oslo or Copenhagen, made with little money, and it is being changed for another that involves 40 years of decline in cycling mobility. Apart from the actions paid for with European funds, others are also being removed, such as the cycling priority at the Dutch roundabout [un tipo de infraestructura en el que las bicis tienen prioridad]. The result is that many people have stopped using the bike, especially kids to go to school.”

Reactionary insurance policies towards sustainable mobility

David Lois, professor of Social Psychology and mobility knowledgeable, says: “After the 2023 municipal elections, the agenda of some city councils seems to have a single point: dismantling policies aimed at making active mobility, trips by public transport or the improvement of urban space. The actions are carried out without any type of evidence, beyond topics such as alleged mistreatment of drivers.” In his opinion, “they are reactionary policies that undermine improvements in children's autonomy, in the walkability of the elderly or in the creation of environments where pedaling is not stressful.” In this sense, “Logroño has been one of the most active cities in carrying out regressive measures.”

The Logroño City Council now has 5 days to answer the request with its allegations. When it does, Transport will difficulty the ultimate decision. If on the finish of the 12 months the actions that obtained European funds usually are not accomplished as promised, the native authorities will likely be ordered to return the quantities obtained.

It is just not the one case. At the tip of April, Óscar Puente's division despatched the same doc to Murcia to demand that it perform the dedicated actions relating to pedestrianization and bicycle lanes; The City Council indicated that a number of are underway, though others stay unrealized. Meanwhile, Transport confirms that it’s investigating 14 extra cities for comparable actions that symbolize regressions in sustainable mobility. In truth, Puente was mayor of Valladolid within the earlier legislature, when he constructed a number of bike lanes that his successor, Jesús Julio Carnero, later eradicated.

“From the ministry we want to be vigilant so that the objectives of these funds, which aim to promote sustainable mobility, are not distorted and that the municipalities carry out the actions to which they committed. We can be flexible when there are unexpected circumstances, but not when there are unjustified changes in political criteria,” says Fernández Heredia, accountable for Sustainable Mobility on the Ministry of Transport. “When it is found that they have not carried them out, they must return the full subsidized amount. But in addition, they may face sanctions contemplated in the law, which may involve two or even three times the amount to be reimbursed,” he provides.

For later, the assessment of the help granted to construct low-emission zones (ZBE), which is enormously delayed in Spain regardless of already being obligatory, stays. “When the time comes to justify this aid, we will be vigilant that these actions have been used to establish an effective ZBE. The beneficiary mayors signed a responsible declaration committing that at the end of the period [en muchos casos, a final de 2024] they would be working, and would work for the next five years. If they do not comply, they will have to return the money,” says Fernández Heredia. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman, who launched an ex officio motion because of the delay within the implementation of low emission zones, confirms that there’s nonetheless no information in his investigation.

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