Schools in Catalonia and Madrid protest over traffic

by Deborah Cater
schools protest over traffic and unsafe environment

Students and parents from seventeen schools in Barcelona took to the streets in protest over traffic in December. A further 100 schools from the Catalonia region joined the protests last Friday.

“One hundred schools are now demanding the streets be quieter and that motorised traffic be drastically reduced. That says enough about the seriousness of the current situation, ”said Guille López, spokesman for the non-profit organisation Eixample Respira that initiated the protests in the centre of Barcelona city at the end of last year.

Every two weeks more protest over traffic and school environment 

From March 12, all students and their parents from the schools participating in the Eixample Respira campaign will take to the streets. For for half an hour they will protest against the unhealthy and unsafe environment of their school. The municipal council of Ana Colau, Barcelona announced last week it would double the number of schools this year for which an adaptation of the environment was planned.

However, parents are not reacting positively to this plan. According to them, it only concerns the clearing of a bicycle lane. Nothing will address the level of car traffic.

Schools in Madrid join action

In the Madrid region too, there is great dissatisfaction among students and their parents about the traffic situation. They will join the protests from Catalonia and take to the streets in two weeks to express their dissatisfaction.

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“Together, we demand traffic in front of the entrances to the school is prohibited when children arrive and go home. The pavements are very narrow and at the entrances to the schools it is getting busier with double rows. That was already the case, but now with the pandemic it is even worse. Some people have to walk on the road and a number of times that has almost resulted in an accident. For years we have been raising this problem with the municipality, but nothing is being done about it”, says the mother of a primary school student from Arganzuela.

In the Madrid region, a total of seven schools joined the protest. In the coming months they will hold a virtual campaign together (revueltoescolar.es) which they hope will see more schools from other cities join the campaign.

Contact with organisations outside Spain

According to Guille López, the enthusiasm of parents and students from the Madrid region proves the action has potential. He is therefore encouraging schools from other regions in Spain to support the action from March 12th. In the meantime, the organisation is in contact with comparable organisations in France and England. The reveultaescolar.es website is already available in English and French.

One of the aims of the action is to reduce air pollution. The pollution is scientifically proven to adversely affect the health and cognitive development of young children especially. A recent study of the growth of 3,700 minors found air pollution affects the weight and development of the lungs and brains of newborns. The concentration of gaseous pollutants during school time exceeds the maximum values set by the EU for around half the schools in Barcelona city.

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