The Government has begun the consultation procedures of the draft of the Sustainable Mobility Law, one of the points of the agreement between PSOE and Podemos. For a few days and until next October 30, any interested citizen, entity or group can make their contributions and expect them to be taken into account. The entrepreneurial machinery has also begun: for the time being, gathering through the Chamber of Commerce the manufacturers of cars, components, electrical and construction companies with Town Halls and ministerial representatives to raise their valuation.
The employers of the car: “Saying that you have to promote the bike or increase sidewalks does not help the sector”
“As an advisory body, it is up to us to do so,” explained House sources. The mobility commission was established in March, before the state of alarm. It is chaired by Christian Sein, director of communication for SEAT and institutional relations for the Volkswagen Group, and Pedro Saura, secretary of state for Transport, was at its inauguration. Its members include Anfac, the automobile association, and large companies such as Abertis (motorway operator), Acciona (infrastructures and ‘motosharing’), Indra (technological), ACS (construction company), Naturgy, Iberdrola and Repsol (energy).
The commission, indicated in its presentation, will be “one of the most prominent instruments” in the “national dialogue for mobility” that concludes with the drafting of the law.
“Unfortunately we are not here. We have never been”, recognizes Ana Montalbán, technical director of the Network of Walking Cities, born in 2013 and made up of fifty Spanish cities committed to pedestrian rights, with Pontevedra as a benchmark. “We are, along with Andando, the two most representative entities at the state level. We have written a joint letter to Minister Ábalos to offer us to collaborate. We will prepare our contributions and we would like to be called to the famous tables. We have not been invited and, without However, the motor world is highly represented. ”
Montalbán indicates that forgetting is common: in the DGT’s Higher Council for Traffic and Road Safety there are several automobile clubs and research centers on it, but no representation of the pedestrian.
Although the data changes greatly depending on the area, the national average indicates that 43% of trips are made by private vehicle, 45% are non-motorized (on foot or by bicycle) and the rest go to public transport. In large metropolitan areas, public transport has much more weight (close to 30%) and in medium-sized cities, the big winner is walking.
If the law is about sustainable mobility and this implies reducing motorized traffic (and with it traffic jams, pollution, accidents and sedentary lifestyles), why are the car and the energy companies singing the lead? Proponents of this type of mobility fear that companies will define where the future law goes.
If companies play such a big role, there are suspicions that they will draw the line
“We were invited as a large city council. We were quite surprised,” says Giusseppe Grezzi, councilor for mobility in Valencia. “It is legitimate for the Chamber to create that commission. What we do not see clearly from the area and the party in which I am [Compromís] are the goals. If companies play such a big role, there are suspicions that they will draw the line. We try to separate the interests of the industry from government action, with the idea that the car has its role but must be a minority. If we only replace the combustion ones with electric ones, we will have the same problems. ”
Grezzi, who has participated in two of the three meetings of the commission, says that companies “know the language very well: you have to go to humane cities, reduce impacts, adapt to changes … But at the moment of truth they promote their business, it is their role. ”
A great lobby
The law will have two important legs: in addition to promoting sustainable mobility, it must change the way in which public transport is financed. That part – complex, with a lot to do since it starts from scratch and with France as a benchmark – is what ATUC, the association of urban transport companies, will focus on.
“The automobile industry is very important. They have a beastly power. For us they are not the coconut, the coconut is the change of mentality of the citizens: we must learn to move differently,” says its president, Jesús Herrero. “It seems sensible that if mobility causes more than 30% of emissions, a modal change must be made. We propose to reduce the use of private vehicles.”
This beastly power of the industry has to do with gaining resources from the administration, according to the researcher of the TRANSyT Transport Research Center David Lois.
“To make decisions, you need updated data. And I don’t think the central administration has them. There’s Movilia, a survey that is being replaced by mobile data that leaves important things out: the modal distribution, what people think, their attitude towards each transport … I see absence of investigation “, considers. “On the other hand, the automobile industry and its related companies (the insurance sector, the financial ones) do have resources. They carry out studies, sponsor investigations, events, have the capacity to invite ministers and monopolize the attention of these issues in society. They believe a space of opinion where they reduce mobility to the car. That is nonsense. If they are your first actors, do not advance towards a law of sustainable mobility. ”
A recent example was the meeting organized by Iberdrola (“Let’s talk about sustainable mobility”), with an invitation to the general secretary for infrastructure, to comment on the new law. It is not the first: others They have included spokespersons for the PSA group and Telefónica.
The official speech of manufacturers regarding emissions – that the car park is very old – has already obtained 1,050 million public aid for people to change cars (in fact, most subsidies are for polluting cars). It remains to be seen if the proposals of the energy lobby will sink in, which include developing recharging infrastructures. From AEDIVE, the association for the development and promotion of the electric vehicle, they explain that one of their proposals will be the scrapping plans in exchange for kilometers of ‘sharing’: you throw away your car and they give you “points” to use shared cars .
“Administrations are not asked for money,” says Arturo Pérez, its president. “What they have to give are advantages to electric mobility: free parking, charging infrastructures. They are asked to help. This way you reduce emissions, remove old cars and it is a saving for families, because ‘sharing’ is cheaper than have your own car. ”
The bicycle beats the pedestrian
Asked why other actors will participate in the draft, sources from the Ministry of Transport indicate that one of their measures is to develop the State Bicycle Strategy. For this they have had associations such as the Network of Cities for the Bicycle or ConBici. “It has enormous potential and should be taken into account in any mobility project,” they explain.
“The cycling lobby is stronger than the pedestrian lobby because they have been working longer,” says Montalbán, of Towns that Walk. “The bike sells more, it has a certain industry behind it. The pedestrian does not sell anything. Pedestrians would need to take away space from the car, but to talk about that is to mess with a lobby and very strong internalized behaviors, such as parking on the street is a right And as long as Spain’s GDP depends on the number of cars sold, we are doing poorly. We will propose that the law restrict the unnecessary use of the car, create low-emission zones in small cities and regulate parking. That the city is not a garage. ”
Pedestrians need to take space out of the car, but to say that is to mess with a very strong lobby
For the councilor for mobility in Valencia, the pedestrian example is Pontevedra and a good idea is that of Francesco Tonucci, an Italian pedagogue who proposes “the city of children”: if it is accessible and not dangerous for them, it will be for everyone. Regarding what the law must include to be successful, Grezzi is clear about it: rules and investment.
“For example: the DGT recommended reducing speed to 30km / h in one-way lanes. If the DGT says it, you have an impulse to put it in your municipality and silence criticism. This is what the central government should do,” he concludes. . “If all cities have to have low-emission zones, make prototypes and put money. That prevents it from becoming a local debate.”