Madrid allocates 61% of the available space on its streets to cars

The vast majority of Madrid's streets are dedicated to cars. Anyone walking through the city can see it, but to understand the scale of this distribution we have to look at the big numbers run by the city council, which indicate that 49% of the available space on city streets is dedicated to these automated vehicles turning and more than 12% can Park it. In total, 61% of the city's roads.

The distribution leaves for pedestrians 39% of the remaining space, which is also shared with hospitality terraces, street furniture and other items on the sidewalks. The data is published by the Madrid City Council itself, within its statistical series Surface of public roads in MadridImportant differences appear between the city's 21 districts.

The distribution of the 60 million square meters of existing public roads according to municipal data is very uneven in the outer areas of the city, where areas such as Barajas sidewalks occupy only 31.2% of the available area. Similar numbers are offered by Villa de Vallecas or Fuencarral-El Pardo. On the contrary, both the Central and Carabanchel area have approximately 50% of the public space free of cars.

This is the distribution in 21 areas of the capital:

To publish this statistic, it was necessary to count the number of parking lots located in areas outside the M-30, since the Madrid City Council only counted those affecting the regulated parking service area (SER). In the rest of the city, the exact number of parking spaces is unknown, but if the ratio remains the same as there is data, there could be a total of about 650,000 street parking spaces.

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Parking spaces within M-30 are calculated one by one. There are 121,604 and the area with the largest number is Chamartín, with nearly 30,000 places. Although the one that allocates the most space on its streets to storing passenger cars is Retiro, at 13.39%.

In addition, 115,589 underground public parking spaces are available, most of which are for residents. The number of private parking spaces is not reflected in any municipal statistics.

As for the rest of the vehicles, there are 13,447 reserved spaces for motorcycles, most of which are on the roads and are concentrated in the seven aforementioned directorates. Bus and taxi routes occupy about 786,400 square meters on the roads, or 2.5% of the total space available on the city’s streets. Regarding bike lanes, the Madrid City Council data section does not contain current kilometers broken down by their location on sidewalks and roads.

The terraces have an area of ​​151,000 square metres

The space available on roads and their various uses is easier to measure than the space on sidewalks, since all the urban furniture for city operation and decoration (street lamps, benches, trees…) and activities that do not involve motorized travel are collected.

One variable that can be measured is the space occupied by the terraces, as the City Council recorded the square meters granted in each permit. In total, the council allows private use of 151,579 square meters of public space, a much lower figure than two years ago, when the pandemic preferred them to occupy up to 204,308.5 square metres.

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As in the previous cases, this number varies greatly depending on which part of the city you are in. Three areas – Centro, Chamartín and Chamberí – combine almost a third of the area occupied by terraces in Madrid. If we put all their tables and chairs together, close together, they would occupy the equivalent of five football fields.

The three mentioned areas and others such as Arganzuela, Retiro, Tetuan or Salamanca are those with the highest percentage of pedestrian space occupied by terraces. In Barajas or Vicalfaro, the sidewalks are empty of tables and chairs.

Infrastructure favors private car

In Madrid there are 1.4 million registered vehicles, according to Municipal statistical yearbook For 2022, last available. There are 1.07 cars per household, although 35% of households in Madrid do not own a car. In addition, there are 252,000 motorcycles or motorcycles and 132,000 trucks.

The proliferation of transportation routes in the typical distribution of Madrid streets favors it as the preferred means of transportation for moving around the city, according to Madrid Mobility Study 2022, the latest published by the city council. 38.7% of daily trips are made by car, motorcycle or the like.

The next most popular way to get around is on foot. They represent 26.5% of those registered in the city. 24% of Madrid's population uses public transport, 10.3% by taxi or VTC and 0.5% by bicycle or VPM.

Madrid's car preferences date back to the 1970s, when the city's urban planning transformed many of its streets and other main thoroughfares, widening roads, digging tunnels and creating metres, to make way for the automobile revolution that continues to this day. The dispute between pedestrians and cars goes back a long way, with bloody consequences for the former, but it was during the end of the Franco regime when many multi-lane road schemes emerged for traffic that still exist today and make up 61% of traffic. Roads have been developed in public spaces in Madrid.

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The good news for pedestrians is that this trend is changing in recent years, at least in the more compact part of the city. The pedestrianisation, implemented after the pandemic in most areas of Madrid and the accessibility works, is little by little reducing the car space in favor of pedestrians. It's a figure that doesn't get much media coverage, but during Almeida's previous term, nearly 10,000 parking spaces in the SER disappeared, making way for 88,117 square meters of new sidewalks. It only represents 0.23% of the city's roads, but it could be a start.

Myrtle Frost

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