Valencia repurposes urban riverbed as park, fails to connect it for pedestrians

Valencia, Spain is a medium-sized city, with an urban core and a metropolitan area with about 1.5 million inhabitants. The topography is almost flat and the city has a very comfortable and warm climate year round. The city has a concentric urban structure with commercial activity focused towards its center, despite new shopping malls.

The agglomeration has a diameter of about seven kilometers, so you can reach the city center on foot in about 30 minutes from any place in the city core; however, the streets are designed to reach the inner city by car, or even optimized to cross the city, so drivers do. This results in a traffic situation that leaves the center streets as (car-based) access routes to the city, which has a great impact on the whole urban fabric.

The lack of public space or pedestrian paths in the city has been offset by the old riverbed restored as a park, a green open space and an exceptional urban wealth in its role as the backbone of the city.

What is happening with areas where people can’t reach this park everyday? Old people for example, who prefer smaller distances, also need quietness and fresh air. Where else can they find it?

For the last 20 years, the Valencia City Council has been redeveloping streets without a global strategy or walking continuity and has, in contrast, prioritized private cars instead of people.

We explained the alternative proposal to our neighbors, we asked them to participate, and they did. We integrated their inputs and submitted the proposal to the Mayor.

We are a small team, imagine what could be reached if the Valencia City Council had supported public participation from the start? With a technical team on behalf of the council, engaged enough with sufficient time at hand to visualize, discuss, try and choose.

This didn’t happen.

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