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Madrid’s missteps on path towards ‘walkability’

Despite central Madrid’s foot-friendly makeover, the average Madrileño scoffs at walking to work, school or the bar. (S-F/

It will take more than widened sidewalks and car-free streets in downtown Madrid to change ingrained attitudes about walking. David Hewitt reports for CityMetric that despite the creation of a largely car-free downtown that prioritizes pedestrians, walking is frowned upon outside a central zone.

“Many residents prefer to drive, take the bus or Metro, or go by bike, even over relatively short distances,” Hewitt writes. The typical Madrileño might be open to a ten- or 15-minute stroll, but would scoff at using feet as transport to work, school or a bar, the article says.

As in many Western cities, automobiles were prioritized for decades in Madrid’s urban design. Amenities that pedestrians enjoy, such as trees, fountains and benches, were often removed. City Hall now aims to reverse these trends. A municipal project mapped a network of signposted, walker-approved routes, CityMetric says. Beginning in January, most of central Madrid became off-limits to vehicles. 


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