Attractive, safe and accessible public space at major attractions
Mass tourism is impacting European destinations and challenging local representatives. Despite the prosperity and urban development that increased tourism can bring with it, residents’ best interests should also not be overlooked in the pursuit of economic growth. Mobility planning can play a key role in reconciling the needs and requirements of both citizens and tourists.
The aquarium Poema del Mar was opened in December 2017 and is the new major attraction of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It is located in the north of the city, an area full of touristic and leisure attractions such as the Mercado del Puerto, Castillo de la Luz, Parque de Santa Catalina, etc. Moreover, the new aquarium lies alongside the Cruise Terminal and just 200 metres away from Las Canteras beach.
This area of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the most congested area of the city due to its particular urban structure: a narrow strip of land joining the Port of Las Palmas and the Isleta neighbourhood with the southern area of the city.
In fact, that isthmus is the gateway to the Port of Las Palmas and the most important industrial park of the city (El Sebadal). The main highway of the island (GC-1) passes through the isthmus and shapes the urban space in this area.
Within CIVITAS DESTINATIONS a Laboratory Area has been defined to test innovative solutions that could improve sustainable mobility for both tourists and residents. The Laboratory Area covers the surrounding area of the new Aquarium.
The SUMP methodology was used here to overcome the urban mobility challenges of this new touristic attraction. The goal was to integrate tourists’ mobility management into the city’s existing planning tools and meet the needs and requirements of both citizens and tourists. The SUMP methodology has proved to be also useful to address tourists’ mobility challenges in cities.
Implementing sustainable mobility
Cinesi SLU with the collaboration of key local stakeholders – the Municipality of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Guaguas Municipales – drafted a Mobility Plan in 2017 with a set of technical, infrastructure, policy-based, and soft measures.
This Action Plan included the following measures/actions to achieve the declared goal and specific objectives:
Goal 1: To reduce car use
- Park & Ride facilities at the main entrances of the city:
- Competitive fares (especially compared to the parking fares in the city downtown);
- High frequency public transport services, demand management (balance between residents and commuters);
- Competitive travel time compared to car travel time.
- Traffic calming actions: Implementation of traffic calming actions such as zone 30, liveable streets and pedestrian streets.
- Improvement of the parking management scheme: This measure is focused on improving the residents’ parking scheme by creating priority and exclusive areas for residents. However, it should also include actions for improving the parking facilities for tourists.
Goal 2: To encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes:
- Improvement of walking accessibility:
- Sidewalks, crosswalks in all street crossings, curb ramps for pedestrian in all crosswalks, etc.
- Creation of a walking paths network.
- Bicycle Master Plan: This plan states the following priorities: to develop and maintain a safe, connected, and attractive network of bike lanes, to improve cyclists’ safety, and to secure parking racks for bicycles.
- Improvement of the bike sharing system in the study area.
- Improvement of the public transport in some transit corridors.
- Transit signal priority for public transport.
Goal 3: To tackle traffic congestion:
- Road network management: The main action here is a variable traffic signs system in the main highway (GC-1).
- To take care of the accidents black spots.
- Transport planning solutions for the new touristic attraction: In the case of the Aquarium of Las Palmas, this action is focused on to setting up a Laboratory area reshaping the public space and fostering universal accessibility solutions. The Mobility Plan also proposes a set of transport solutions for the two main target groups:
- For tourists:
- Development of an on-street signs system for pedestrians.
- A new parking area for coaches.
- For residents: On the one hand, the plan foresees an improvement of the walking, cycling and public transport facilities (i.e. new bus stops, walking and cycling paths).
- For tourists:
Finally, the Action Plan also includes an improvement of the traffic routes.
The objective is to avoid crossing trajectories amongst all traffic flows in the area (visitors of the new aquarium, shopping mall clients, taxis riding cruise passengers, etc.).
The Municipality, Guaguas Municipales and Cinesi SLU drafted a stakeholder engagement strategy in order to foster a close cooperation and to ensure a real implementation of the measures included in the Action Plan.
Despite the needs and interests of all stakeholders involved in the project were different, the most relevant success factor of this project has been that all of them agreed on the need of improving this area of the city.
The lessons learnt in this process are summarized below.
- It is necessary to involve all Public Administrations in the decision making process since the beginning of the project.
- Urban planning has a key role in this kind of urban improvement projects. For instance, a part of the study area – the Puerto Ciudadarea – has special urban regulations that rely directly on national laws.
- There are not many data available about the travel behaviour and specific needs of tourists in Gran Canaria. Therefore, it is really useful to create a kind of target market profile to identify the main characteristics of each tourist group (cruise passengers, tourists accommodated in the city and tourists accommodated in the south of the island).
Although not all actions included in the Action Plan have been implemented up to now, the measure is in operation and data for evaluation is being collected.
- Sagulpa (public parking company) installed eight e-charging points for electric vehicles in the Muelle Sanapú parking facility in 2017. More information.
- Although the Bicycle Master Plan has not been fully deployed yet, some of the actions have already been implemented, such as the new parking racks. More information.
- Sagulpa has installed two stations of the bike sharing scheme with 20 slots. More information.
- An exclusive parking area for coaches was opened in January 2018. This is the main action for improving the parking facilities for tourists visiting the northern part of the city (especially the new Aquarium).
- Guaguas Municipales has improved the public transport in this area with a new express bus line that connects the harbour with Tamaraceite neighbourhood. More information.
- A new bridge for pedestrians to connect the harbour and Mercado del Puerto is under construction.
In autumn 2019 and spring 2020 the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project (measure LPA2.2) monitored and evaluated how these new mobility solutions are influencing the mobility patterns (and behaviour) of tourists in the Laboratory Area.