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The road of discord

This summer the Trending Topic of the talks on terraces or meetings between friends in Benalmádena has been the only lane of the Coast. This pilot test consisting of the reduction of traffic lanes on Avenida Antonio Machado, which has been carried out within the Sustainable Development Strategy (Edusi) for Benalmádena, -subsidized with 10 million euros from the EU-, has put the patience of many drivers to the limit. And the fact is, the rush to get to work, temperatures of almost 40 degrees and a long caravan of cars, are perfect ingredients to drive anyone crazy. These summer months have given much to this issue, so we offer you a synthesis of the milestones and keys to the conflict as a global overview.

The Sustainable Development Strategy

The initiatives to remodel Benalmádena Costa and give it a definitive boost are nothing new. It is in 2014 when the idea begins to sound within the City Council. And in November 2017, when it was committed to Edusi as an integrated strategy for sustainability and the fight against climate change. In general terms, the Sustainable Development Strategy (Edusi) contemplates a battery of measures that are committed to the sustainable development of the city, “favoring elements such as the creation of new green and recreational spaces, the role of pedestrians in front of the vehicle with an extension of the pavement, the use of new technologies to service of the neighbor and visitor or the recovery and enhancement of archaeological sites ”.

In relation to the specific traffic routes of the Coast, municipal sources clarify that their proposal “does not contemplate a reduction of lanes, but a reorganization of traffic on the avenue.” In this way, the local government project for Antonio Machado avenue maintains four traffic lanes on the road as follows: in the Benalmádena-Fuengirola direction, one for normal traffic, and another reserved for bus and taxi. And in the Torremolinos direction, one for normal traffic, and another lane for new mobility: bicycle and non-polluting vehicles.

Infographic of the transformation they intend to undertake in Benalmádena Costa. By: Ayto. Benalmádena

Regarding the new parking spaces, the vast majority have been created temporarily until the civil work begins and “part of the space that these parking spaces occupy will be, on the one hand, to widen the lane in the direction of Torremolinos and, on the other, to expand the sidewalk”.

This “commitment to sustainable mobility” will be complemented by other measures, such as the free use of municipal public transport for residents registered as of next year.

The current government team assures that “the studies and projects were commissioned during the period of the former mayor of the PP, Paloma García Gálvez”, and they emphasize that “it was the PP who initiated the process of reorganization of traffic on Antonio Machado avenue and they voted for in favor of the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy (Edusi), in which the project was included in the exact terms in which it is being executed ”.

However, the PP clarifies that in 2014 what was carried out was “just a preliminary draft in which nothing was said about the measures regarding traffic that the PSOE and IU have implemented” and goes further and specifies that in 2017 “The strategy included the reduction to one lane in the section only between the Plaza Solymar and the Exhibition Center and also specified that before carrying it out, a series of previous detours and other alternatives had to be executed to facilitate traffic”.

The pilot test

The City Council reduced the number of vehicular traffic lanes on Avenida Antonio Machado as a pilot test to monitor traffic behavior and be able to determine measures that contribute to improving its flow with a view to launching the global remodeling project. However, this measure caused daily traffic jams this summer that aroused widespread unrest among users and put them on a war footing. At the initiative of a citizen, the “apolitical and transversal” Platform No to the single lane of Benalmádena Costawas born, which in a short time added almost 4,000 members on the internet between Benalmadena residents and foreigners. At first, the platform seen from the outside looked like a, let’s call it, a virtual collective relief forum in which neighbors and foreigners expressed their discomfort and shared photos and videos of long caravans of vehicles. However, they went from tantrum to action, and organized to hold a protest rally.

For its part, the local government was “aware of the situation” and apologized for “the inconvenience caused” but did not intend to back down from the project and argued that the situation experienced this summer on the coast had been aggravated due to an unexpected increase in traffic due to the large influx of national tourism, “the vast majority of which have chosen to travel in their own vehicle due to the pandemic situation”.

In order to alleviate the problems experienced with traffic in the area, the Consistory a few weeks ago created a new roundabout at the confluence of the avenue with the Siroco lane with the intention of reducing the length of travel, by allowing the U-turn in the section between the roundabouts of Los MolinillosandSolymar. However, this measure has also been criticized since for lane users “it does not offer a solution to the problem”.

The manifestation

On Sunday, September 12, hundreds of citizens, summoned by the platform, demonstrated both with their vehicles in the lane that is the subject of discord, and on foot in front of the House of Culture. During the call, members of the platform read a manifesto in which they expressed their disagreement with this measure for reasons such as “the giant traffic jams that it has been causing, with the consequent insecurity, since ambulances, police and firefighters are trapped in the middle of the traffic or the considerable increase in pollution, since the car parks have attracted more cars and the retentions more accumulations of CO2, as well as the damage that all this entails for the commercial and business fabric of the area ”.

In addition to demanding the active participation of citizens in the planning of this project, they demanded that the avenue regain its former use “by understanding the reduction of lanes for road traffic this summer as a resounding failure”.

The political parties that make up the opposition also joined the demonstration, a gesture that some translate into “opportunism” and others into “simple support for the demands of the neighbors”. On the sidelines, stress that the protest was carried out without altercations and its promoters were satisfied, describing the call as “successful”.

Image of the public demonstration in front of the House of Culture. By: Ole Benalmádena

The meeting between neighbors and political parties

A few days ago, several members of the platform held a meeting with representatives of all political parties. For about three hours, according to sources from the platform, both of them presented their particular vision of the conflict and “although everyone agreed that the Coast deserves to be promoted and remodeled” and neither wants to lose the funds Edusi, the reality is that the majority did not reach a point of agreement on how the project should be carried out in terms of traffic management.

The platform clings to the need to keep the four lanes of traffic unchanged, an option that seems to be shared by PP and Vox as well, or at least roughly. Cs for their part, proposes to maintain the four lanes “but leaving two of them for services, and that they can be left open and can be modified for regulation at times of high vehicle traffic in order to avoid traffic jams.”

In short, although the four roads are expected to be maintained, the problem is that there is no agreement on what use to give them and while some prioritize normal road traffic – perhaps because they do not trust that the alternative measures adopted by the rulers will solve the traffic jams. nor are the long-awaited environmental objectives achieved-, others are committed to incorporating alternative uses -because they understand that measures can be combined to give fluidity to traffic by prioritizing other routes of displacement and at the same time creating more space for pedestrians-. And if there is no meeting point on this issue, they do not agree on whether the median of palm trees, which runs along the avenue, should be maintained or eliminated.  

The municipal plenary session

The coastal remodeling project was debated this morning in the municipal plenary session through a motion defended by Cs, in which they proposed maintaining four lanes; two for services and the others for road traffic, and the one led by the PP, which proposed that the use of these roads be maintained as up to now and that the median of palm trees be preserved. Both motions were rejected before the majority votes against the PSOE and IU.

Despite the fact that from Cs they insisted on “studying the project more thoroughly so as not to compromise European aid”, the local government argues that “the technical reports support that neither of the two proposals presented in plenary is compatible with the Edusifunds”. In fact, they emphasize that “the technical reports presented in plenary session to the political forces are explicit, in order to comply with the Edusi strategy, they are working in the right direction, and any modification to the project would jeopardize the grant of 10 million euros received”.

In the same way, they point out that the strategy Edusi “is the prelude to the new calls for European aid based on reducing the carbon footprint of cities, giving pedestrians a leading role and promoting sustainable mobility” and that turning back now “implies no longer using the funds Next Generation, Agenda Urbana or Agenda 2030”and insist that “we are aware of the traffic problems that have been generated this summer, and we are working to improve mobility ”.

For their part, the popular ones, who assure that they will continue to reject the single lane, have recalled that “the project was not voted in plenary session and there are no reports of Traffic, Emergencies or CO2 measurements, which shows that this initiative has been carried out correctly. backs to the opposition and the citizenship and also denotes a disastrous planning and management of the development of the projects under the European funds ”.



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