The engineer of Roads, Canals and Ports, Fernando Davara Méndez, assured, during his conference in the Cycle Mobility, Transport and Decarbonization, organized by the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country of Tenerife, in collaboration with the Canary Islands Cultural Foundation of Engineering and Architecture Betancourt y Molina, that the mobility of Tenerife will not improve until the indiscriminate use of private vehicles is restricted, because making more roads and improving public transport will not prevent “people continue to take the car.”
An expert warns of the saturation of population and cars in Tenerife
In his opinion, the central problem is dependence on the car. “We have a culture in favor of the private vehicle and people choose, even under equal conditions (time and cost), private transport”, but also, despite the economic effort made by the administrations in the public transport service, With that alone, it is not possible for public transport to be competitive with the private vehicle.
The reality of mobility on the island “leads us to a decrease in the quality of life and anyone can appreciate it and, this is how we perceive it when we travel and compare ourselves with other cities that have been working for a long time towards a more sustainable mobility: Barcelona , Pontevedra, Vitoria, San Sebastián, Córdoba, Málaga, Las Palmas… and so do the tourists who visit us ”, he pointed out.
For Davara, these advances arise from “determined mobility policies in favor of public transport and against private vehicles where they are not competitive, policies promoted by the European Union and this is recognized by the Recovery Funds, which only finance measures of this type, since it has been shown that they contribute to the decarbonisation of transport ”
Regarding the future, he warned that the population of Tenerife in the 80s was 700,000 inhabitants and now one million and it will continue to grow. “If the progression continues, it will exceed 1,170,000 inhabitants in 2024, which means that there will be 2,300,000 motorized trips every day, 27% more than we have now,” he predicted.
According to their data, a third of the trips throughout the island take place in the metropolitan area and, according to press reports at the beginning of the year, Santa Cruz was the third most congested city in Spain. In addition, the metropolitan area, the South and the La Orotava Valley account for the largest number of trips. With this reality, “the Insular Ring will not solve the main mobility problems of the Island.”
Congestion on island roads: planning
Davara clarified that the mobility situation on the Island “is not just a transportation problem; rather we are talking about a problem that has its origin in territorial planning and urban planning ”. As he described, it arises with urban indiscipline, and is consolidated in a planning “completely unrelated to transport.” In other words, “the activities that attract travel are located in the territory with an intrinsic logic alien to the needs of travel, which translates into examples such as facilities very far from where the population resides. Here he recalled the population dispersion and the high number of urban and rural settlements and pointed out that “building outside urban centers makes it very difficult to provide competitive public transport with private vehicles.”
Likewise, he stressed that there is a lack of common criteria in transport policy between administrations as a result of the distribution of powers. It is a “cascading problem”, since the participation of all of them is necessary to obtain effective results in achieving a more sustainable transport; as a result “the island lacks an integrated policy and has no easy solution.”
The engineer reiterated that the absence of urban policies for sustainable mobility is one of the main reasons for congestion on island roads. “The municipalities have felt on the margins of the issue and the problem has ended up being reduced to a lack of capacity of the island road, without being aware that the municipalities, which are the destination of the trips and suffer the consequences, do less than what that could “, for example,” discouraging long-term parking indiscriminately on public roads or with the construction of deterrent parking lots, “he insisted.
The municipalities also need “technical structures that they do not currently have, and although the lack of human resources is a general problem in the public administration, it can be alleviated with external hiring,” he explained.