What if I told you there was a way to simultaneously save money,
get in shape, and help the environment?!
It is no secret that Mallorca has long been known as a cyclist’s paradise, whether you’re training professionally or simply enjoying a scenic day out, the island offers endless experiences for all levels of fitness and motive. Cycling has unfailingly been the most popular physical activity on the island, and is now progressing as a favoured mode of transportation for residents in the city of Palma.
With over 14 million tourists a year, Mallorca increasingly thrives off tourism, accounting for over 80% of the island’s economy. As each new year welcomes more tourists than the last, Mallorca has flourished in economic status and social influence, however tourist numbers have posed a monumental threat to the environment. Summer 2016 recorded air pollution levels higher than recommended by the World Health Organization, with more than 150,000 people living in areas with exceeded pollution limits legally authorised in Spain.
A fundamental reason for this is the tropospheric ozone, often termed the ‘bad’ ozone. It is a result of air pollution commonly caused by vehicle emissions, airports, shipping, and power stations. This ultimately affects Mallorca’s climate, wildlife, vegetation, and wellbeing of citizens. With the number of tourists rising every year, demand for flights and rented vehicles continue to escalate, leading to accumulated road and air traffic, increased ozone pollution, and consequently a higher threat to the island.
This brings us back to the growing movement of city cycling as a sustainable alternative to driving. Joan Ferrer, from the Palma council mobility department says they have a project in motion to “little by little park the car and use more sustainable alternatives like the train, bus and even more walking or biking”. A great way to cycle around Palma is with Bicipalma, the public bicycle system for both residents and tourists.
Bicipalma is encouraged for everyday recreational use, with more than 290 bicycles, 385 parking spaces, and a network of bike lanes exceeding 81 km around the city. These lanes are separate from roads and thus offer an enjoyable amount of cycling through Palma’s parks and open spaces. By 2020, “we are planning to double the amount of bike lanes and envisage an increase from 2 to 5% in bike use. On the other hand we forecast a decrease from 38.5 to 32% in car use.”
For more congested areas, cycle tracks have been located to avoid any collision with motor vehicles or pedestrians. Bicipalma is the perfect system for small cities such as Palma, with well-thought-out infrastructure allowing for easy connections between different areas of the city. Furthermore, registered Bicipalma users can now access the Mobipalma mobile application to receive alerts when 5 minutes remain of their bicycle session.
Many European cities have embraced cycling as their most popular mode of transport. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are ranked the two most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, where cyclists and drivers have become accustomed to coexist on the same road to incite cyclists to circulate more freely. Mallorca is attempting to initiate this within the narrower streets of Palma, in areas such as Santa Catalina. Accordingly, the speed for motor vehicles will be reduced to 30 km per hour to increase safety and adaptability.
Palma lies on a promising path to becoming the next city cycling hub. Through enhanced infrastructure and strengthened safety, we foresee a highly efficient and environment-friendly transportation network. Inspired by developed eco-cities around us, we as a community can achieve sustainable tourism, environmental preservation, and look forward to a greener and brighter future for Mallorca!