Spain’s capital Madrid announced in April, 2021, that it’s going to start a unique motorcycle-focused project. Madrid’s mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, believes that electric motorcycles and scooters are the future of the city’s mobility. To that end, a new dedicated motorcycle lane trial on one stretch of a busy city street could help make all streets safer for Spanish riders. This could, theoretically, encourage more riders to get out on the road, making Spain’s streets less congested.
How will it work? To be clear, it’s not a long, huge dedicated motorcycle lane that stretches on for kilometers/miles in any given direction. Instead, it’s a single 70-meter-long stretch along the very busy Avenida de Asturias. The idea is to encourage riders to use this dedicated moto lane to filter up to the stoplight, where there’s a dedicated space for two-wheelers to wait for light changes.
By encouraging riders to use their dedicated lane, the hope is that fewer riders will see the need to engage in lane splitting or filtering behaviors. The thinking is that riders can achieve the same goals of filtering up to the head of the line, helping traffic flow more smoothly, and also increasing their safety. In theory, all road traffic could win if this trial works out well.
In an April, 2021 conference, two Spanish national newspapers, Marca and El Mundo, organized a talk about the future of sustainable mobility in Madrid and other cities. Mayor Martínez-Almeida, Laia Sanz, and others participated to discuss how motorcycles—especially electric ones—can help people in cities get around in more efficient, sustainable ways. The mayor is apparently himself a well-known rider, and frequently darts around city streets on his Yamaha NMAX 125. He’s been riding for about four years, an experience which could definitely contribute to this concern being a matter he wants to push.
While local media says that this trial is intended to last for a couple of months, no official start date has been given, nor have specifics about a finite length of time it might continue. It’s also unclear what next steps might be within Madrid, should the pilot project go well.
Now, clearly, some kind of public education campaign will need to occur if citizens in and on all types of vehicles are to use this stretch of road properly during the trial. Also, we don’t yet know what kind of effects such a successful trial in Madrid could have on other metropolitan areas. After all, every city is a bit different, with different traffic cultures and rider/driver ratios to consider. Still, it’s always easier to get the ball rolling when you see that someone else was already successful. Here’s hoping that public communication is equal to the task of getting information to the public, so this project has a real chance to show its potential.