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Pasqual Maragall and the challenge of mobility in big cities

A few days after the official start of the electoral campaign for the municipal elections of 28 May, mobility and coexistence between the car and pedestrians in public space and in large cities, as Barcelona, has become one of the star themes of the pre-election debate.

Regarding this political and citizen debate, the journalist Neus Tomàs highlighted, in an article in El Diario.es, the vision on the use of the private vehicle that Pasqual Maragall already had, three decades ago, when he was the mayor of Barcelona. This approach clearly focused on public transport over the car, in line with what other major European cities were already doing.

In the article "Pasqual Maragall and the cars", the deputy director of El Diario.es recalls an interview on TVE, in the program "Tariro tariro" of La Trinca, in 1989, where Pasqual Maragall already stated:

"Let people forget about the car to go to work or shop downtown. This is absolutely basic. If anyone goes to central London, New York or German cities they will see taxis and buses and almost nothing else".

Urban mobility of the future must be a multimodal mobility.

The article also includes a speech by Pasqual Maragall in 1992, where he already defended a model of the city based on sustainable mobility and more respectful of the environment, many years before the current climate crisis has put on the table, the urgent need, seek alternatives to car use and the effects of pollution on the planet.

That speech, which the mayor delivered at the Saló de Cent of the Barcelona City Council on 20 November 1992, is available in the Pasqual Maragall Digital Archive promoted by the Catalunya Europa Foundation, and began as follows:

"All European metropolitan cities, I repeat, all European metropolitan cities, face the same problems of rigid mobility in peak hours, in which almost half of the journeys are concentrated, and mostly insured by the private vehicle that on average, throughout Europe is used to make 75% of the journeys. These problems, which are known to all, are those referred to the loss of urban space by the pedestrian, the loss of time, pollution, noise and also the misappropriation of an exhausting and almost exhausted energy source such as oil , and, indirectly, the devaluation of important urban areas. (...) The urban mobility of the future must be multimodal mobility with journeys that will begin by car, in interchange parkings will be passed to the train, the bus or the metro, and in minibuses according to the demand to approach cessation at the end of the journey".

We invite you to read the entire speech, as well as the article by Neus Tomàs, since both documents reveal the advanced and visionary thinking of Pasqual Maragall on a fundamental issue for design, the future and sustainability of big cities.