10 reasons against owning a car (in Madrid city centre)
Whether you are moving to Madrid,or already live here questions of whether you need a car or not are legitimate. Depending on the type of activity or lifestyle, buying and owning a car is an important consideration.In this article, I will explain why owning a car can be an inconvenience if you live in the city centre…A car on the outskirts is usually necessary and convenient if you can afford it. Firstly, I define the city centre as the districts and neighbourhoods within the M30 highway. Here follows the reasons why you are better off without your own vehicle in Madrid:
- Public Street Parking: Whether you are renting or own an apartment in the city centre, parking spaces are a limited resource. In most cases you will have to park out in the streets. Even then, you will probably be faced with paying the parking metres. The green parking zones of Madrid are reserved for neighbourhood residents. This means registered residents (who pay annual rates) can park without any time limit. On the other hand, members of the general public can still park keeping in mind that the maximum duration is only 2 hours and the tariffs or rates per hour are pretty expensive. In the blue zones, these rates can be even higher if you happen to also be in the Zona de Bajas Emisiones (Zones of Low Emission). The blue parking zones are cheaper than the green zones. You can park in the green zones for a maximum of 4 hours. Like the green zones, you do have Low Emission Zones where you will pay slightly higher rates. In both cases, low to zero emission vehicles get discounted rates. The Traffic Department offers up to 50% parking discounts for vehicles in the categories B (Yellow Stickers), C (Green Stickers) and ECO (Green and Blue Sticker). These categories represent year of manufacture of vehicle and type of fuel. Lastly, a fourth category is for cars without classification. These are petrol vehicles made before 2000 and diesel vehicles manufactured before 2005. These types of cars are penalised with an additional 25% fee on top of the regulated parking tariffs. Therefore, older cars The white zones are free and few in between. Here is a list of parking tariffs in Madrid for both the green and blue zones in Spanish. In conclusion, parking tariffs are enforced during the following periods:Monday to Friday: from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. without interruption
Saturdays: from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. without interruption
Sundays and holidays: FREE TO PARK
August and December 24 and 31: from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- Private Parking: An alternative parking for your car can be a private parking. If you are lucky, then your apartment building has its own parking, if not you will have to buy or rent private parking. There are some apps to rent private parking like Parkfy or ParkApp.
- Vandalism: Don´t get me wrong, your car can be vandalised anywhere…However, there are more cases of vandalism being key-scratched vehicles, broken mirrors, graffitti, broken windows…
- Pedestrian Streets: The city council has embarked on initiatives to turn some streets into pedestrian streets. Therefore access by car to some zones (mainly touristic) is prohibited. For example, Gran Via is currently being remodelled to accomodate pedestrians and cyclists while reducing lanes for vehicles.
- Air + Noise Pollution Levels: You need only view Madrid from outside to notice the blanket of air pollution, especially looking at the 4 towers of Madrid. As a result, again the town council has decided to…On the other hand, residents have also campaigned for measures against noise levels due to traffic in these districts.
- Residents Only Zones: Certain districts and streets of Madrid can only be accessed by registered residents.The cameras in these areas will capture and fine non-residents. I have a friend who received 2 fines while looking for parking space because he drove in the Residents Only Street twice. Here is a list of Resident Only Streets to avoid traffic fines. If you have to really get there by car, you can ask your host or the business in that location to approve your permission for the day.
- Parking,Towing and Traffic Fines: Simply put, if you don´t have a car,you will never risk getting a fine or having your car towed.Here are the fees in case your car gets towed away by the Madrid Municipal Services. Another point to consider is that it is relatively easy to get a fine in Madrid…Imagine you park and pay the parking metre while you attend a meeting or enter a shop. The minute your parking ticket expires you are left to your own luck UNLESS you are using an app to renew your parking duration. Even then, note that the green and blue zones have 2 and 4 hour maximum parking durations respectively…(see point 1 above). Parking control officers are on the lookout and will fine you if your parking ticket expires and you don´t renew it soon enough. Parking fines start from about €30 but you can overturn the fine by paying €3 within an hour or receiving it in the parking metre (Note: Parking Metres in Madrid are only in the Spanish language).
- Spic and Span Public Transport: In comparison to other major European cities, like Paris and London,Madrid has a very good transportation system. When I say good I mean clean,thermally comfortable and safe!In particular, the metro transport system is really good and can get you to most places reliably (except on days of union strikes or unforeseen service breakdowns). Public transport is also affordable, green and may I dare say less stressful: you can read and not get frustrated with traffic on the road.
- Alternate Shared Rides: In this day and age, owning a car can seem overrated. Car ride sharing services like UBER, Blablacar and Cabify among others make moving from place to place easier than ever.
- Biking & Other 2 Wheeled Options: In the interests of sustainability and less carbon footprint, two wheeled options are becoming popular. This trend is not just a passing fad and the local governments incentivise bikes and motorcyles by making roads safer and accommodating for all types of vehicles…motorised or not!