Estepona City Council has been distinguished with the 2022 ‘Ciudades que Caminan’ Honor Award for the project to open the city to the sea. The pedestrianization of the Avenida de España, converted into a balcony facing the Mediterranean, and the advances in the humanization of the city have been the reasons for the award of this award by the Walking Cities Network. It will be delivered at the Network Congress to be held in Palma de Mallorca on October 6 and 7.
The Network of Cities that Walk is an international non-profit association, whose main objective is that pedestrians are the main protagonists of urban mobility and public space. In this case, the Walking Cities Honor Award is given to municipalities that promote some outstanding action in favor of pedestrian mobility. In previous years, this award was given to Bilbao, for being the first city with more than 300,000 inhabitants to decree a maximum speed of 30 km/h on all its streets, and to Paris for its fight against the excess of cars in its urban almond.
In the case of Estepona, the jury has valued the elimination of motorized traffic in the central segment of the Estepona coastline, 1.5 km long, which has meant a great advance in the transformation of the city and a huge step towards achieve more sustainable mobility, creating a new local icon and recovering some 15,000 square meters of public space.
An interruption of the linearity that meant a deactivation of motor traffic along the entire coastline, with the consequent decrease in the number of cars and that will continue with two other projects that will shortly extend this model from the Lighthouse to Calle Delfín and from this to the roundabout of Juan Carlos I.
Thus, the coastal strip becomes a place of transition between the city and the sea, with a more pleasant, quiet, safe space, open to pedestrians and where nature predominates.
The entity has considered that “transformations like this contribute to urban quality”. Thus, he has highlighted the confidence that this new dimension of its main east-west artery will be very beneficial for the city’s tourist economy and will generate new dimensions of urban vitality; this confirms, once again, that the transformative processes based on pedestrian mobility and the multifunctionality of public space without cars help to raise the standard of living in cities.
130 renovated streets
The award also comes to recognize the comprehensive transformation that the city has been undergoing for 10 years, with interventions to renovate some 130 streets. Its historic and pedestrian center has been practically completely pedestrianized, eliminating historic arteries of motorized traffic such as the central Terraza street.
Likewise, “the improvement of universal accessibility has become evident in recent years, as well as the beautification of its streets, which have been filled with flowers on the facades and the opening of pedestrian streets through private lots, which have helped to gain proximity and discover corners full of beauty that previously went unnoticed”, highlights the entity, adding that “the pedestrianizations have not only remained in the center, but have also been taken to other neighborhoods, which have seen the birth of streets of coexistence turning inhospitable alleys into pleasant streets, alleys with trees that flow into the sea”.
The Walking Cities Network has also highlighted “the courage of the local government to carry out such a transformation will serve as an example to other places that are considering carrying out similar measures in their urban fabrics”. Avinguda de España had, before its comprehensive reform, three traffic lanes for cars and in some sections one more for parking. It was its main motorized avenue, the old N340, which reinforces the value of the transformation.