Pavements across Spain are too narrow and offer poor accessibility, study finds

MANY pavements in Spain’s cities are too narrow and don’t meet accessibility rules according to a study published by the Network of Walking Cities.

The group has analysed urban roads in Spain- 950 streets in 85 cities- and concludes that over two-thirds of public routes are dedicated to cars.

Of the 32% of areas allocated for pedestrians, many pavements are not wide enough and 14% are have a width of less than a metre, making it very difficult for vulnerable people to use them.

The study picked out almost 600 kilometres of urban routes in city centres and outlying urban areas to measure roads and pavements.

Urban mobility expert Oier Martinez Violet said: “We found that, in general, we have a low-quality public space, with narrow pavements which affects walkability and therefore little encouragement not to use a vehicle.”

According to the Ministry of Transport, all urban pavements must be at least 1.80 metres wide and cars not be parked on them.

That width is not met on many small streets according to the Network of Walking Cities because a car lane and a parking strip is a preferred option rather than having pavements.

The study argues that in order to be accessible, a pavement should be at 2.4 metres wide as walking areas include urban furniture (lampposts, benches), trees and other elements of the road.

It states that 51.1% of the streets do not reach its recommended width.

On the other hand in city centres, more than 52% of the pedestrian space does actually exceed the figure, but in outer city districts this goes down to below 43%.

There are nearly 15% of pedestrian routes that are less than a metre wide, and the narrowest discovered in the survey had a width of less than 30 centimetres.

“In general, cities are designed for adults with good health, good mobility but in those areas there are also people with a cane, with a walker, children, the blind, people with functional diversity or reduced mobility, others who take care of children or dependents, who carry strollers,” said urban planner and architect, Itziar Gonzalez Viros.

“For many years, mobility has been associated with having wheels, and the idea that bodies need to move, which is also a way to stay healthier, has been lost,” he stated.

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