Mobility and public health

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Mayor Serrano’s plan must go ahead. It is an obligation enshrined in a national law that must also stop the serious contamination of Murcia. It won’t be enough to get more vehicles out of the center. Public transport to neighborhoods must be improved. And the information to the neighbor. With more empathy and pedagogy, and less arrogance

Work on the Murcia City Council mobility plan is scheduled to begin next Wednesday. A project that will profoundly transform the city, which has led to protests in some neighborhoods, controversies on social networks and a bold debate between political parties. All of this is within the foreseeable scope because the plan is not starting and being implemented shortly after the ballot boxes have gone to the polls, but in the run-up to an election and with the uncertainties that an urban plan of this magnitude entails. for citizens, especially if there is insufficient and not very detailed information and certain actions are not specified, such as the promised park-and-ride parking to compensate for the expected loss of parking spaces. Under no circumstances should the plan of Mayor Serrano’s team be stopped. Not just because it has full legitimacy to promote it. It is that there is a legal obligation for the church council. The adoption of sustainable mobility plans, including the establishment of low-emission zones, is a target set for 2023 in municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants in the Climate Change and Energy Transition Act, adopted in spring 2021 with the support of all political groups in Parliament, except Vox. But there is another important reason: Murcia has a serious urban pollution problem. According to data from the Sustainability Observatory, the city will have reduced nitrogen dioxide levels by 38% by 2021, although it is the third Spanish city with the most PM10 particles and the fifth with the most PM2.5 particles, the worst because they are so small that they penetrate into the alveoli and from there into the bloodstream. This year is on track to be one of the worst on record PM10 particulate pollution. There is less data on the other more dangerous ones because one of the two regional monitoring stations in the city has been out of operation since February. The situation in Murcia is complicated by geophysical conditions and because, in addition to traffic, pollutants are present in emissions from agricultural combustion and in dust clouds in the Sahara.

Achieving a more sustainable and healthier city is an urgent challenge due to the accumulation of scientific evidence on the harmful effects of pollution, studies that led the WHO last year to tighten the recommended limits of these airborne particles in cities. The goal is to reduce the deadly effects of urban pollution, greater than those of tobacco and alcohol, through the number of people affected and the incidence of multiple pathologies.

I do not rule out much less that the plan can be improved. Sure, if there was more money and a longer implementation period. That said, the work of the municipal technicians gives me confidence. It is true that the devil hides in the small details, but the plan is moving in the right direction to reduce private vehicle traffic and improve the quality of the air we breathe, resulting in improved public health. However, it will fail if public transport to the neighborhoods is not improved, because the aim must be to reduce polluting emissions throughout the metropolitan area and for that it is not enough to remove the vehicles from the center, which is important and should be achieved with that low emission zone that has yet to be defined.

The municipality’s team should have exhaustively informed the citizens about their entire plan, just the opposite of what they did. Due to the need to carry out the works in a limited period of time with European funds, there has been no real regulated process of public participation. And the explanation to the neighbors has been insufficient. Neither directly nor indirectly. It was very difficult for us to have the precise information to convey to the readers, we received few responses and sometimes undemocratic attitudes towards professionals of this newspaper. Too much prejudice and ideological bias, ignorance of the role of the media and authoritarian tendencies inappropriate for a party that, where it has more experience, successfully governs other municipalities in Murcia. The opposition isn’t too bright either. It would be incomprehensible that the PP did not monitor the actions of the government. It’s your obligation. But he has interestedly fanned the hornet’s nest and applauded the protests, positioning himself alongside Vox, a party that has made scientific denial a sign of political identity in the 21st century. His outrageous role in the latest demonstration does not benefit those who have legitimately protested. Neighbors who are concerned about the situation in their neighborhood deserve, like all citizens, respect, explanation and making their protests and opinions visible. There are no good and bad citizens, first class and second class. The government team must show the same sensitivity it has rightly shown with residents of southern neighborhoods affected by the potential eternity of paved roads. Don’t forget that in addition to information, there is now a need for more empathy and pedagogy, and less arrogance.

Source: La Verdad

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