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Madrid mayor plans to ban private cars from city's main shopping street

Spanish capital follows cities including Barcelona and Paris in restricting vehicles to tackle air pollution

Madrid is set to become the latest major city to remove private cars from its centre under plans revealed by the Spanish capital’s mayor, Manuela Carmena.

The former judge has said that by the time her term of office ends in 2019, the city’s major thoroughfare, the Gran Via, will be closed to all traffic other than buses, taxis and bicycles, reports the Independent.

Cars were banned from the six-lane Gran Via, the most important shopping street in Madrid, last month for nine days in the run-up to Christmas.

While Carmena’s political opponents claimed local businesses would suffer since customers couldn’t access them by car, the mayor said afterwards that they had seen profits rise 15 per cent compared to the previous year.

Madrid’s move is primarily aimed at reducing pollution and other cities including Paris have also outlined or implemented their own plans to restrict private motor traffic.

Last week, mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo proclaimed 2017 the year of the bicycle and said she was accelerating plans to introduce more separated cycle lanes in the city.

> Paris mayor wants to being forward bike lane expansion

In Spain, Barcelona said last year it planned to roll out 300 kilometres of cycle lanes and remove cars from city streets in a bid to cut the estimated 3,500 deaths a year attributed to air pollution.

> Barcelona plans to cut cars from 60 per cent of city steets

London however, is struggling to combat the problem, with one street in the south of the capital breaching its annual air pollution limit for 2017 just five days into the new year, and dozens of other streets set to follow.

> London street breaches annual air pollution limit just five days into 2017

In 2013, the city of Suwon in South Korea went car-free for a month when it hosted the EcoMobility World Festival, with people parking their cars on the periphery of the city centre and continuing their journeys by other modes of transport or on foot.

> City in South Korea goes car-free for a month

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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