‘I’m crying inside’: Madrileños react to reversal of city traffic restriction

Monday marked the first day when cars will be allowed to drive in Madrid’s central areas without having to face a penalty after Madrid's new right-wing City Hall scrapped a traffic restriction introduced by the last mayor.

'I'm crying inside': Madrileños react to reversal of city traffic restriction
Protestors blocked traffic on Calle Alcala on Monday. Photo: Greenpeace Madrid.

The “Madrid Central” scheme was introduced by left-wing mayor Manuela Carmena last November as one of the measures that persuaded the European Commission not to take Spain to court over its bad air pollution in the capital.

But Madrid's new conservative mayor Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida made ditching “Madrid Central” a priority during his campaign, saying it had done nothing to ease pollution and only caused a nuisance for locals.

But the reversal is proving deeply unpopular.

Brandishing signs declaring ‘Madrid Central Works’, activists from Greenpeace in association with la Platforma en la Defensa de Madrid Central staged a protest in front of Madrid’s City Hall this morning.

Over the last few weeks the Platforma en la Defensa de Madrid Central has been trying every technique to fight against the mayor’s bid to overturn Madrid Central, including marches, petitions and lodging environmental reports proving the benefits of the scheme.


Their most significant event was on Saturday, when the protestors staged a march from Callao to the Town Hall, which was the biggest march dedicated to an environmental cause in Madrid’s history, involving some 60 thousand people. The group's aim is to use non-violent confrontation to protect Madrid Central transport restrictions.  

A spokesperson from the platform, Juan Felipe Carrasco, 49, who had lived in Madrid his whole life, described how saddening it was to see so many cars in the centre again after having enjoyed a less polluted Madrid whilst riding his bike through the city in the past few months. 

He said it made him want to move elsewhere, where the people in charge could be trusted with the important issues.

“I’m crying inside,” he told The Local after staging a protest that stopped traffic at Banco de Espana on Monday morning. 

Juan Felipe Carrasco joined the protest on Monday morning. Photo: Alice Huseyinoglu

Carrasco, a member of the cycling association Pedalibre, affirms that even though Madrid Central’s restrictive zone was around 80 times smaller than London’s low emission zone, the traffic restriction laws still made a difference in the fight against climate change.

La Platforma en la Defensa de Madrid central has one basic demand: a meeting with the mayor to discuss the policy. But this request was made a week ago today and is still awaiting a response.

“This is proof that the new mayor cares more about the interests of big corporations than the interests of the people,” he said.

“Overturning of the emissions laws is a huge step back,” Carrasco said “It shows that right-wing politicians choose to go back to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with their policies.”

“It's ignoring a crisis that results in 38 thousand premature deaths per year,” he said.



By Alice Huseyinoglu

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.