Holidays are the most eagerly awaited days of the year, which is why it is important everything goes to plan. Arriving in a city and not finding somewhere to park and spending hours in the car looking for parking can spoil those longed-for days off. At the same time, residents of these cities suffer the consequences of the arrival of huge waves of tourists as they can cause more problems than benefits in some cases.
One of the first priorities of the inhabitants of a territory is freedom of movement and the need to travel, which constitutes a fundamental right of the citizen. This requirement is difficult to meet in densely populated areas as is the case in cities in general, particularly those with variations in their usual traffic volumes in a short period of time such as tourist areas.
This situation usually leads to problems such as a decline in retail sales, environmental pollution of the city generated by carbon dioxide emissions and noise pollution caused by cars. Such a context therefore becomes a nuisance for residents and traders, while also creating a poor image for visitors.
Technology for Smart Cities and the action plans implemented by city councils help alleviate these situations. Isolated cases in coastal or mountainous region municipalities or even World Heritage Sites show how it is possible to reverse this trend and once again enjoy these cities.
Sète, city of canals and bridges
Benidorm, the New York of the Mediterranean
L’Escala a population of holidaymakers
Tourism and heritage in the 21st century
While medieval cities were built to be inaccessible, the 21st century requires cities that are viable for traffic and the pedestrian mobility of their inhabitants and tourists. Many of the ancient cities in Spain urgently require transformation, for example Toledo, Alcalá de Henares, Salamanca, Ibiza, Tarragona, Santiago de Compostela, Segovia and Cáceres, to name but a few.
Tourist cities such as Ibiza, Alcalá de Henares y Toledo are also World Heritage Sites. In these cases The White Paper on Mobility in Heritage Cities has set a precedent on different ways of taking action to solve the problems that arise today.
The document states that the most common solution taken to make these types of roads accessible has been the building of a single platform and in many cases pedestrianisation. However, there are also other solutions applicable to these types of problems, particularly those related to vehicle traffic.
Alcalá de Henares, the responsibility of being a World Heritage Site
With 206,000 residents and an additional daily floating population of around 50,000, Alcalá de Henares is a municipality located in the eastern part of the Autonomous Region of Madrid. It is strategically located in terms of communications, since it receives all the traffic flow from the N-II road and is crossed by the Madrid-Barcelona rail line.
In an automobile census in the municipality in April 2014, 84% of vehicles there belonged to the tourism sector. Given these numbers, the city council started to implement several measures to solve problems caused by the huge influx of tourists and the need to ensure both the well-being of citizens and visitors.
One of the actions included the programme to promote bicycle use in the city and the creation of a series of parking areas to facilitate pedestrian transit, helping to improve environmental sustainability and increase mobility in the city centre.
Ibiza receives two million tourists a year
Ibiza is an island in the Mediterranean forming the archipelago and autonomous region of the Balearic Islands, in Spain. It has an area of 572 km² and a population of 140,964 inhabitants (according to the 2015 population census), and receives roughly 2,000,000 tourists a year attracted by the beauty of its landscapes and its world-famous entertainment and night-life options.
Being such a popular tourist destination started to generate various problems on the island. This seasonal influx complicated access to the centre and caused congestion of vehicles looking for parking in the Marina. This situation affected the well-being of the population and had a negative impact on trade and the image of the area. As a result, the local government decided to place sensors on the parking spaces of the Marina and install a panel to inform drivers of parking space availability, therefore avoiding unnecessary vehicle access in case all the spaces were occupied. This smart parking technology is part of Urbiotica’s solutions and enables optimised management of parking areas and quicker access into the city centre.
Cities today have great disagreements concerning the use of the limited soil availability. Some cities prefer to dedicate more space to new parking areas, while others, such as Ibiza and some touristic places decided to optimise the management of the existing parking areas to make the most of them and this way reduce vehicles driving around searching for a free spot and hence reduce traffic jams. Citizens are satisfied because they no longer waste time looking for parking, suffer less stress and have improved quality of life.
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