How Valdecarros will promote a sustainable mobility model
Talking about the future of city mobility requires working with two variables. Firstly, promoting sustainability and climate urgency in our daily mobility needs, and, secondly, adaptaing those change processes in cities to demographic changes and the greater weight of remote work.
Even though urban mobility continues to rely to a large extent of use of private vehicles, environmental problems and the greater awareness of higher urban quality of life means that we are moving towards urban sustainability policies that focus on accelerating the use of soft transport (by foot, bicycle, or scooter) and the use of collective public transport. The goal is to promote new urban mobility that ultimately seeks the reduction and decongestion of road traffic in Madrid, caring for the planet and implementing healthier habits.
The reference taken when the Valdecarros urban development started to be planned was a traffic study carried out on the basis of the home survey conducted by the Region of Madrid. This is an exhaustive roadmap that has enabled us to take pedestrian traffic as the basis of a signifcant part of what is known as generated mobility and attracted mobility.
Generated mobility is that which originates or ends in local sites, in this case Valdecarros. The plan is to build more than 50,000 homes in the area, so that the mobility of about 150,000 people be generated in Valdecarros.
Attracted mobility is associated with the activities carried out in the area. These are all those routes that originate or end in workplaces, schools, and shopping areas in Valdecarros.
25% of mobility in the Valdecarros area of influence is currently on foot, 25% by public transport, and more than 50% on private vehicles.
Valdecarros was planned to improve these figures. r¡Firstly by designing a type of streets that seek to reduce dependence on private vehicles; promoting more traditional and efficient mobility – namely, walking – and encouraging the use of personal means of transport such as bicycles and scooters.
The mobility forecast for the new district is very interesting. If we calculate the average of generated and attracted mobility, Valdecarros will initially have a an increase in transport on foot and micromobility of almost 20% over the average of the neighbouring districts, so that more than 40% of routes will be on foot, almost twice than in the areas adjacent to Valdecarros.
This increase in micromobility will also enable us to reduce transport on private vehicles with respect to the average. Only 36% of mobility will take place on private vehicles, as opposed to [●] % in Madrid as a whole.
Furthermore, almost one fourth of routes will initially be on public transport, a percentage that can still be improved on, which we expect to boost before the homes for the first three phases start to be handed over in the coming years.
In fact, the three first stages already have planned connections to the rest of Madrid through underground line 1 and at least seven bus lines, although we will later expand on this point.
How new urban projects can encourage walking over car use
The Valdecarros road network is more than 102 km long. This guarantees easy access to the various service areas, leisure areas, and work areas.
If we lined up all of Valdecarro’s future pedestrian pavements and cycling and mobility network, they would be 127 km long. That is, for example, the distance between Madrid and Ávila.
Pavements in the network of pedestrian route are 4 to 9 m wide in secondary and main streets, respectively.
Likewise, accesible pedestrian routes and green visual corridors generate green routes that cross the city, and have the following characteristics:
- Minimum width of 120 cm (recommended 150 cm).
- A longitudinal gradient of less than 6%.
- A transversal gradient of less than 2%.
70% of streets have a longitudinal gradient of less than 2%, a percentage that reaches 86% if considering gradients of less than 3%, and 99.5% if considering gradients of less than 6%.
Adjusting resulting roads and plots to these gradients, leveling them whenever possible, entailed an increase in earthworks of 28.8 million cubic metres, between sidehill cuts and embankments, aat an approximate cost of 249 million euros (+VAT).
Valdecarros is able to provide an extremely important green lung for the city, spreading a mobility model that focuses on sustainable transport, pedestriana accessibility, and the best conditions in terms of terrain and services to promote the use of bicycles, scooters, and other forms of sustainable mobility.
New public transport connections for Valdecarros
Again, many years of study and forecasts are starting to become true.
The conclusion of the study carried out by the Madrid Regional Transport Consortium for future urban developments in the San Blas, Vicálvaro, and Villa de Vallecas districts is based on two doble factors:
- Radial: providing the various areas with a large-capacity infrastructure to serve centre-periphery demand.
- Transversal: designing a reserved platform system on an axis that runs transversally to the development as a whole, to provide for the internal connectivity of what will be a city in itself, and feeding into the radial axes.
That is, Valdecarros has been designed as an effective model for private vehicle traffic decongestion, both radial and transversal.
The study specifically envisated a new underground line for Valdecarros, going from Atocha to Stage 6, with stops at Stages 1, 2, 3. Another, transversal light railway line was planned, from the Getafe local railway station to the San Fernando de Henares local railway station. It would have three stops in the Valdecarros area: two in Stage 6 and one in Stage 8.
Moreover, the transport study proposed eight new bus lines to extend internal and external mobility.
According to its latest forecasts, the Madrid Transport Consortium is examining the service and use of those transversal areas by Reserved Platform Buses – a high-capacity Priority Use Bus with streetlight priority at crossing to connect the new urban developments in Southeast Madrid, including Valdecarros.
This was confirmed by the President of the Region of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who said that these electric buses will also enable users to move between the closest underground, bus, and local train stops.
Priority Use Buses are a public transport model that will circulate in parallel to the M-45 and M-50 road, with stops between 300 and 500 m away from each other, in areas where geology and geotechnics do not make underground lines advisable.
Buses will have a frequence of 3 to 10 minutes and a speed of 15 to 30 km/h.
How large cities can contribute to more sustainable models
In the case of Madrid, the new urban developments in the southeast will be part of the solution for city mobility.
Madrid is characterised by a strong road hierarchy that makes it possible to concentrate traffic in a few roads (25%).
Valdecarros’ proximity to the M-45 and M-50 structuring networks, as well as the new forms of mobility that will be implemented in the district, will help to strengthen transversal mobility in the city, where radial movement has been prioritised until now.
Valdecarros will become a backbone for South Madrid. A self-sufficient and dynamic microcity in itself which will also be another district in the city of Madrid.
Moreover, the new developments will play a key role in achieving the European sustainability and mobility objectives established in the European Commission’s “Transport 2050” White Book. It establishes the following mobility objectives:
- Transport decarbonisation. Halving the use of “conventional vehicles” in urban transport by 2030 and gradually eliminating them in cities by 2050.
- Ensuring that urban logistics is essentially CO2 emission-free by 2030.