Las Palmas de Gran Canaria developed its SUMP between 2009-2012. An assessment of mobility on the island was conducted, resulting in the creation of various urban mobility measures. The geographical area of the mobility plan corresponds to that of the municipality (100km2).
Some measures have been implemented, whilst others remain in development. During monitoring and evaluation of the SUMP, local planning authorities identified potential future actions:
- The creation of measures combining mobility and tourism;
- The integration of logistics and freight solutions into the SUMP;
- The creation of a high-capacity public transport system;
- The improvement of cycling infrastructure and promotion of cycling.
The SUMP update should also improve the city's touristic appeal.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is the capital of and biggest city on the island of Gran Canaria. In 2016, its population was 378,998 people. The municipal road network that the transport system is based around is 1,000km long. The current bike network is little over 20km long. Las Palmas has there three major bus stations where travellers can transfer between intraurban and interurban operators.
Modal split data collected during previous SUMP development revealed the following transport usage: cars (drivers) - 55%; cars (passengers) - 12%; bus - 13%; bicycle - 0.5%; walking - 15%; other forms of transport (including taxis and motorbikes) - 4.5%.
In 2015, 362,899 tourists stayed in Las Palmas, whilst 706,130 tourists of them made day trips to the city. Furthermore, 682,735 people arrived by cruise ship into Las Palmas.
Antonio Artiles del Toro is a project coordinator at GuaGuas Municipales - Las Palmas's urban public transport company - and leads on SUMP-related activities in the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project (see below). He outlines how the island's mobility situation:
A strategy combining tourism and mobility does not exist at local level in Las Palmas: the existing SUMP does not differentiate between residents and visitors. Last summer, Las Palmas was the European destination with the most car rentals. We must encourage tourists to use urban public transport and facilitate the introduction of hybrid or electric vehicles in car rental companies!”
With regards to the SUMP's focus, its measures, and the implementation strategy, he comments:
"To convince tourists to use bikes, more attractive cycle paths are needed, whilst a public bike sharing service is also being introduced. To persuade them to use buses, the service must become more efficient. Measures will therefore focus on improving public transport efficiency and enhancing the bike network. Having this infrastructure in place would turn both modes into attractive and convenient alternatives to cars.
A new high-capacity rapid bus transit system - called "MetroGuagua" - will connect two opposite points of the city centre. Between these two points, 75% of urban public transport trips occur and most points of interest for tourists and residents are located.
To integrate tourism and mobility, we will develop an urban mobility plan for tourist attractions, including the Santa Catalina Park, which is located close to the cruise liner terminal and new aquarium. Two new bus stops will be built there. A communication and information campaign targeted at residents and tourists will encourage them to use sustainable transport modes.
A Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan (SULP) will be created. The measures identified align the different interests of the stakeholders involved, including the municipality, the public, shopkeepers, and transport operators. Logistics operations will also be integrated into the overall urban mobility system.
A 'mobility office' hasalso been set up to monitor and evaluate current SUMP implementation, collect data on mobility activities, and carry out mobility-related studies or activities. These include:
- Collecting mobility data, including from tourists;
- The integration of leisure trips into policy making;
- Finding ways to cooperate with the tourism sector;
- Organising public events."
Most measures are still being prepared and will be implemented between 2017-2020. Yet something crucial has already been secured: funding.
Local authorities and stakeholders joined forces to obtain a large subsidy from the European Commission, which comes as part of Las Palmas's participation in the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project. This will enable a first round of measures to be implemented, alongside their evaluation.
As part of SUMP update preparations, Las Palmas conducted a SUMP self-assessment. This tells cities the areas they must work on with regards to their SUMP. Here are the results:
The factors that require particular attention are monitoring and a balanced consideration of all transport modes.
A challenge that was identified and overcome was managing the foreseen activities. The increase in the amount and scope of mobility projects in Las Palmas - for instance the rapid bus system “MetroGuagua” and public bike sharing service - and current work involved in preparing the SUMP has created a significant additional workload for the departments involved.
For these reasons, a dedicated mobility office was set up to handle monitoring and evaluation, to update mobility patterns information, to conduct different mobility studies, and to raise public awareness around sustainable modes of transport.
This also means that the mobility office requires experts with the requisite experience and knowledge to carry out its various projects. The recruitment of additional personnel is underway.
It is vital to involve management and HR departments ahead of time to assess current and future resources (amount and quality). Adequate staffing will ensure that measures are implemented properly and help manage risks related to time and overspend.
To find out more about Las Palmas and its role in the CIVITAS DESTINATIONS project, click here.
Image credit: Fotos 2ª Gran Fiesta de la Bicicleta Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (from Flickr) by El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video under CC BY-SA 2.0