12 feb 2018

What makes Madrid so green?

Caixa Forum’s living wall

Madrid is a fantastic destination for any student of Spanish, but few people know that aside from its fame for football and climate it also boasts fantastic green credentials. According to the European Green City Index, which ranks cities by many factors, Madrid ranks at number 12, one place after London and nine places ahead of Dublin.

According to the Madrid City Council, 35% of the city is public greenspace, compared to just 13% of Amsterdam (Statistics Netherlands/TNO) or 27% of New York (New York City Department of City Planning Land Use). Large, open, green spaces like Casa de Campo (1,722 ha) contribute to the amount of green space in the city but over the years it’s been increased due to initiatives like the Urban Garden project in which members of the public were encouraged to turn roof terraces, patios and vacant lots into green space. It is no wonder the project has been successful, as Madrid receives 2769 hours of sunshine a year so it’s not difficult for the city’s trees and plants to thrive.

The roof terrace at La Casa Encendida

Madrid has 43 parks that make up the majority of its green space. Over the past few years, the area of parkland in the city has increased significantly due to the expansion of the recreation area beside the Manzares River. The Spaniards as a whole lean towards an outdoor lifestyle and the banks of the Manzanares quickly became one of the most popular spots to go jogging or cycling after work while the urban beach near Puente Segovia is one of the locals’ favourite places to take a break from the heat in summer.

Puente Segovia

If the green space in the city isn’t enough, the Sierra Guadarrama natural park is less than an hour by bus and it’s perfect for a day trip. In winter, it’s great for skiing and in summer there are plenty of mountain pools to cool off.

However, Madrid’s environmental initiatives are not limited to green space and park land. Like many of Europe’s major cities the government is taking action to reduce pollution; the most talked about plan among madrileños at the moment is the pedestrianisation of Gran Vía, one of the busiest roads in the centre of Madrid. The Gran Vía project will join the Preciados and Fuencarral shopping areas together and reduce pollution and traffic in the city centre.

As well as the Gran Vía project, the electric bike-sharing programme is still flourishing since it began in 2014, with bike stations on every street corner and the addition of 33 cycle paths to coincide with the system. In addition, the Mayor has announced plans to have all diesel fuelled cars banned from the city by 2025.

Electric bike-sharing programme 

Here at AIL Madrid, a Spanish school that has welcomed thousands of students to our city, we show a great interest in Madrid’s green project and nothing makes us prouder of our city than its long-term environmental plan.

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