By John Ensor •
Updated: 08 Nov 2023 • 15:44
Satellite image of Mallorca.
Could our urban environments be the key to healthier living? The University of the Balearic Islands’ Geography Department has innovated a digital atlas that could pave the way for sustainable travel within Spain’s bustling cities.
The recently developed interactive tool ‘for active mobility in Spain,’ is a joint venture with contributions from researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the University of Granada, and Valencia Polytechnic University. It aims to quantify the walkability and cycle-friendliness of urban spaces, writes Palmesana.
The project sheds light on Palma‘s efforts alongside Barcelona, Valencia, and Granada to promote greener modes of transport.
The atlas incorporates 57 georeferenced variables offering insights into aspects like urban density and green space distribution, playing a pivotal role in urban planning for what’s termed the ’15-minute city.’
Professor Carme Miralles-Guasch from UAB, who is steering the project, stated, ‘the objective of the atlas is to be a rigorous and reliable source of information for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle in urban environments.’
Each city’s potential for active mobility is assessed, with Barcelona displaying a similar 42 per cent potential to that of Palma, Valencia, and Granada.
The concept of a ’15-minute city’ is prominent in this analysis. In Barcelona and Granada, 76 per cent of the area has essential services within a quarter-hour walk. Valencia tops this with 81 per cent, while Palma registers 38 per cent.
Cycling infrastructure, or ‘pedalability’, varies too, with Barcelona’s Eixample district notably bike-friendly at 22 per cent. Valencia leads with 44 per cent, whereas Palma and Granada are at 12 and 10 per cent, respectively.
The atlas doesn’t stop there. It delves into urban vitality, gauging public space activity levels, and quantifies green areas across these municipalities. Such detailed information is invaluable for cities like Palma, aiming to enhance their liveability through sustainable practices.
Contributors from the University of the Balearic Islands include Dr Joana Maria Segui Pons and Dr Antoni Colom Fernandez, pivotal in shaping the research on tourism, mobility, and territory.
The atlas’s launch coincided with a conference that spotlighted the role of active mobility in urban design, featuring Mireia Boya, the Generalitat of Catalonia’s Director-General for Environmental Quality and Climate Change.
She emphasised, ‘The importance of active mobility in urban planning’ and the need for accurate indicators in measuring environmental potential for pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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