Tarifa is taking steps to move away from vehicles and encourage sustainable transport, in a bid to improve quality of life for locals and the thousands of foreigners who visit in search of wind and waves. With an eye on preserving its beautiful historical centre from the impact of cars, the city as refocused its goals: it wants to become a pleasant place for people on foot and bicycles.
Out of all the municipalities in the Campo de Gibraltar, Tarifa is the one that most relies on tourism. It has a population of barely 18,200 inhabitants, but this jumps tenfold during holiday season as it accommodates thousands of tourists in search of pristine beaches and Tarifa’s unrivalled surrounding natural environment, in the heart of the Strait of Gibraltar Natural Park.
Already, around 60% of Tarifa’s municipality enjoys some degree of protection, be it environmental or, as is the case of the city itself, in terms of cultural heritage. Now there is growing awareness that the city’s lifestyle, coupled to the popularity of its beaches and its pursuit of active leisure and tourism activities, has made preserving those urban spaces key to its survival.
These are the key reasons whys Tarifa’s town council is adopting various initiatives to move cars out of the old quarter and to reorganise traffic outside the old city walls. Inside those walls, Tarifa has joined a regional initiatives called Friendly City, or Ciudad Amable in Spanish. Outside the city walls, it has adopted measures set out in the national Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.
The Friendly City project is currently out to tender and envisages a 1.2m euro project to pedestrianise the Calzada de Sancho IV El Bravo, which runs from the Castillo de Guzmán el Bueno to the San Mateo church. The project will replace the existing arrangements with a single lane for residents’ and emergency vehicles, with no parking in the heart of the town.
The project has now been approved after a number of changes were requested by the Junta de Andalucia’s public works department, and will be financed using EU funding earmarked for the Cádiz province.
Not everyone in Tarifa, however, has welcomed the plans to pedestrianise the city centre. A number of neighbourhood associations, alongside business representatives and the Partido Popular opposition, have voiced opposition to the council’s plans.
In a joint statement, various associations insisted that the council “can be sure that we will not sit back and watch while it progresses with a project that has been drawn up without the involvement of citizens”. They highlighted concerns that the project envisaged pedestrianising the main thoroughfare into the heart of Tarifa.
The council has taken on board the criticism but is pushing ahead with the scheme and is drawing up regulations to allow residents restricted access to the centre with their vehicles, alongside access for emergency and delivery vehicles.
Against these exchanges, however, there is clear evidence that Tarfia requires additional protection in order to preserve its natural and historical spaces. A quick look at data related to the second element of the council’s plan, the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, leaves little room for doubt.
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