Travelling with food
Food is an essential part of any trip, both the food you discover at the place of arrival and the food you take with you from home. Let’s review the basics for travelling with food.
The importance of food, whether for the cultural basis or the need for energy, means that when we travel we face various dilemmas, such as: Where to eat? What to eat? Eating at a restaurant or taking food with us in a home-made lunch box? Eating before leaving home or doing so when we arrive at our destination?
What we need to know is that, no matter what option we choose, the best we can do is avoid travelling when we are hungry. It is necessary that, before starting a journey, we leave home with a full stomach, as this will make us optimistic and will make us face any problem that may arise with more energy and positivity.
I want to take my food from home. How should I do it?
Once I have decided that I want to take my food with me, I need to know that, depending on the means of transport I use, I will have to transport it differently. For example, if I fly from one European Union country to another, there are usually no restrictions on carrying food on the plane. We can travel with products of animal origin, as Member States are supposed to comply with Community veterinary standards. If the trip is outside the European Union, you will need to consult the regulations of each country to find out whether they will let us introduce our food and how to do it.
On the other hand, if we travel by car, what worries us most is what foods to put in the lunch box so that once cooked or processed they retain their properties, both in terms of preservation and taste. Therefore, it is necessary to keep the lunch box at the right temperature, this being a maximum of 5 °C for cold foods and around 65 °C for hot foods. In case the heat cannot be maintained, it is better to refrigerate the food and heat it before consuming it. Recommendations such as the desirability of using hygienic foods, cured in the case of dairy products, and avoiding preparations containing raw egg should also be taken into account.
We are what we eat
As the La dieta Mediterrània un estil de vida actual document by the Alice Foundation highlights, “The need to recover the Mediterranean diet has become a constant demand for decades. The different researches carried out on the food patterns that characterize the developed societies of our time lead to surprising conclusions: we do not eat well, we have unlimited access to certain food products, and in our society more and more important states of malnutrition are detected. Pathologies specific to our environment — overweight and obesity, anaemia, decalcification and osteoporosis, caries, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, retinopathy and macular degeneration, constipation and digestive disorders, and degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or cancer — are, in many cases, related to diet that the patient has followed throughout his life. And diet can be, if not the cause, the trigger of the malfunction of the body […].”
The panellets, chestnuts, and sweet potatoes that are consumed for the feasts of All Saints and the Day of the Dead; the nougat for Christmas; the omelettes and other preparations for Fat Thursday; the doughnuts for Lent; the ring-shaped cake for the Kings’ day; the cream for St. Joseph; the cakes for the festivals of Sant Joan and Sant Pere; the mones for Easter…
The history of our land is closely linked to Mediterranean culture. Mediterranean people share similar characteristics, one of which is the fact of enjoying social life around a table, enjoying the dishes and stews that are presented to be tasted while talking a mile a minute and having a good time.
Our culinary culture has its origins in medieval times. In Catalonia, we have one of the first manuals of recipes, gastronomy, and wines in Europe, the Llibre de Sent Soví, from the 13th century, which is an anonymous medieval recipe book. Also, in the words of Josep Pla, we have the first best-seller of the culinary world: it is the Llibre del coch from the 16th century, by the master Robert de Nola, cook of King Ferdinand of Naples. Today, Catalan cuisine is known and recognized internationally.
What is the energy value of food?
The energy value of food is proportional to the energy released when that food is burned, in the presence of oxygen. This released energy is measured in calories.
A calorie is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. It is a very small unit and, for this reason, kilocalories (1 kcal = 1,000 calories) are usually used for food.
The human body, when in a state of absolute rest and constant body temperature, consumes a certain amount of energy. This amount of energy is called the basal metabolic rate (BMR), and is needed to maintain vital signs. The following formulas are used to calculate the daily rate of basal metabolism:
- Women: BMR = 655 + 9.6 · W + 1.8 · H – 4.7 · A
- Men: BMR = 66 + 13,7 · W + 5 · H – 6,8 · A
In these formulas, W is the weight in kilograms, H is the height measured in centimetres, and A is the age in years.
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Who doesn’t love summer? The day has many hours of light, the weather is good to go to the beach, to the mountains… But what happens when it’s so hot that stones burn and houses turn into ovens? How can we enjoy a cool home without having to abuse air conditioners and paying a fortune for the electricity bill?
It’s getting hotter and hotter. The Meteorological Service of Catalonia (SMC) has predicted that the mid-century climate could have almost thirty more days of summer than two decades ago and the temperature in our country could rise by an average of three degrees, which would also lead to an increase in the number of days over 30 degrees.
Plants that cool the air
Before this scenario of rising temperatures, what can we do to keep the house cool while being environmentally friendly and helping to curb climate change?
In addition to doing things like installing curtains, blinds, opening and closing windows to take advantage of the running air, not using the oven, and avoiding using as much heat-emitting appliances as possible, there is a simple and economical way to keep your house cool: having certain indoor plants.
According to the professor Dr. Leonard Perry—Professor Emeritus of Horticulture at the University of Vermont, USA—in the article Benefits of Using Plants Indoors, there are some studies done by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) in which it is said that, among other benefits, such as purifying the air, some houseplants also help to combat heat.
The six most cooling plants
Indoor plants have a number of benefits, such as purifying the air and improving people’s mood. And, according to studies done by NASA on the effects of the plant perspiration, they also make our homes cooler. The work explains that, when the air is heated, plants release extra moisture (they transpire), and this is how they cool the environment.
There are six plants that stand out for their purifying and cooling effect:
- Boston Fern. NASA discovered that this plant is a natural air purifier (it removes volatile organic pollutants such as formaldehyde) and an excellent humidifier.
- Aloe vera. This plant has a high water content and is very famous for its medicinal properties. Now, you will also know it for its air-cooling properties.
- Dracaena trifasciata or the mother-in-law’s tongue. It also contains a lot of water and therefore humidifies the air. In addition, the impact of the sun can be avoided by placing a few in front of a window, as it tolerates direct sunlight very well.
- Peace lily. This beautiful houseplant has a better cooling effect if it has large and lush green leaves, which release a greater amount of oxygen and moisture.
- Ficus elastica or rubber fig. The larger its leaves, the greater the cooling power.
- Pothos. It is a well-known plant, present in many homes. It has great moisturising and purifying qualities.
This new feature of indoor plants makes us see them not only as a decorative element, but also as purifying and cooling, and as an element that will help us have a healthier, cooler, more beautiful, and more sustainable environment.
There is an increasing consensus in our society that accepts that economic growth must respect sustainability standards, and that debates how to link ecology and economy.
Economic growth, as a pillar of the capitalist system, has often been associated with the urban condition, the growth of cities, and the unrestricted expansion of their metropolitan areas. Both the services and the infrastructure needed are expanding, changing the territory and, in return, leaving aside the natural environment and the consequences of its alteration.
It is now clear that this has caused an ecological emergency, and many consciences have changed. They have now the opinion that the economy cannot forget nature, which is an increasingly accepted idea. It is probably outside the more purely urban fabric that more steps are taken in this direction, driven by the sensitivity of landscape conservation and natural heritage.
Following this goal of protection and appreciation of this heritage, the local world created the Landscape charters. Since 2006, Decree 343 of the Generalitat develops Law 8/2005 for the protection, management, and planning of the landscape, although some counties such as Alt Penedès have already had their own since 2002.
How does economy fits in sustainability?
The promotion of those sectors that are better adapted to nature and territory, such as wine, are one of the most common bets. It is a type of industry that combines agriculture and tourism, bringing benefits to the region in a minimum of two ways and enhancing the landscape. Some studies show that sales increase when the buyer links them to an environment.
Maintaining this sustainability, however, is sometimes not that simple. The first issue is related to tourism, about which we have talked, and the protection of the landscape as an exclusive setting against overcrowding. This can affect, in fact, the comfort and daily life of the inhabitants themselves. Secondly, we could go back to everything that the industry requires, which will eventually give jobs and leave profits in the form of taxes, such as the creation of industrial estates.
A matter of mobility and energy
The infrastructures for mobility and transport and the generation of energy needed to move everything are perhaps the two factors where the economy finds it more difficult to become sustainable. The local world has responded with great caution and concern to the increasingly imminent plans for the creation of wind or photovoltaic parks that, while seeming to lead to the generation of cleaner energy, are thought to clash in full with landscape care.
One of the territory’s arguments is that if urban areas are the big consumers of energy, they should also be impacted by generating them—and proposals have been made, such as covering the roofs of industrial areas with solar panels. However, the paralysis of decisions due to the debate—in Catalonia only a wind turbine has been installed in twelve years—does not stop what others can do, and there are those who consider that opportunities are being missed. Recently, for example, a wind farm project was presented in Aragon to feed our country with renewable energy.
But big cities have more open debates between growing or guaranteeing ecological minimums and, as we have mentioned, transport is a key one. Recently, the proposal to expand El Prat Airport has returned to the forefront, a project that from a business sector is seen as a country project, essential to position Barcelona and Catalonia as an attractive and accessible hub for business, whereas many citizens and groups see it as completely unsustainable, as they call for a much deeper discussion about how and how much we want to grow. Surely the latter is the key to the debate we need to face soon.
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Year after year, we hear news about the large number of jellyfish that are seen on the Mediterranean coast in general, and on the Catalan coast in particular. What is the reason for the proliferation of this marine animal? We tell you the reason why there are more and more.
To begin with, we must say, as you must already imagine, that the main cause is climate change. Global warming is causing the Mediterranean Sea to rise in temperature 20% faster than other seas and oceans. This phenomenon is called tropicalisation, and even the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) NGO has conducted a detailed study on the subject.
The effect of warming on living organisms is amplified by seawater acidification, as increasing alkalinity absorbs more CO₂, and the consequence is the weakening of organisms such as phytoplankton or coral, vital to many species, also greatly affected by the increase and frequency of storms, to the point that, in some areas, they have disappeared.
Jellyfish and their increasing population
Jellyfish are invertebrate animals in the shape of a convex bell from which tentacles emerge, almost transparent, because 95% of their body is water. They belong to the group of Cnidaria, which means that they have stinging cells in their tentacles, which they use for defence or to hunt.
They usually live far from the coast, in the open sea, in large groups, and rise to the surface to feed mainly on plankton and small fish, a food they share with other species that are seeing their presence reduced due to the excess of human activity taking place on the Mare Nostrum.
The consequence of the weakening of the marine flora, the reduction of competition in the struggle to feed, together with the practical disappearance of some of its predators, such as the sea turtle, are other factors that influence the increase in population of jellyfish.
Newcomers to the Mediterranean
The changes that the Mediterranean is experiencing are also caused by the enormous pressure to which it is subjected, such as overfishing, pollution, maritime trade, and coastal development. Specifically, maritime traffic taking place in the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar, along with mass fishing, have contributed to the arrival of new species of wildlife.
Up to 1,000 invasive species have been located, which have been displacing native ones to the point that the population of molluscs, for example, has been reduced by 90%, which means that the entire Mediterranean ecosystem is being altered.
In the case of jellyfish, they appear on the coast dragged by surface currents, especially in summer with increasing temperature, and can no longer return to the open sea. They are beings that live all over the world and of which there are different species, but on the Mediterranean coasts is where we can see a greater presence of this animal, due to the warmth of its waters.
This issue is a clear example of global ecological imbalance caused by humans: having abundance in food, adequate temperature, and fewer natural enemies, the growth of the jellyfish population is unstoppable, if we fail to reverse the situation.
Throughout 2019, 931 million tons of food went to landfill. 11Onze wants to give you some tips to repurpose leftover food cooked at home, always taking into account that, wherever in the world it is cooked, the important thing is to learn to cook repurposing each of the ingredients.
We are all aware of the amount of food that will end up in the rubbish, whether at the same point of sale of the products, in restaurants, or at home. According to the food waste report made this year by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) together with WRAP, it is estimated that, during 2019, 931 million tons of food was wasted worldwide. The report also states that 11% of waste comes from households, and that, on a global scale, 74 kg of food is thrown away by each household throughout the year. With this amount of food ending up in the rubbish of every household in the world, 11Onze wants to give you some tips on how to repurpose leftover food at home.
Every year, more than 70 kg of food is thrown away in every home in the world
There are thousands of recipes with all kinds of ingredients, thanks to which, with a little imagination, we can repurpose the leftovers of each cooked dish with a few advices that adapt to all kinds of cuisines, because each country has its own cuisine, but we have to know how to repurpose the leftovers of each recipe.
If the dish we cook consists of meat or fish, any recipe will be useful for making good pies, croquettes, or even stuffed aubergines or peppers. If we cook potatoes and we have leftovers, we can use them to make an omelette, an Olivier salad or, for example, a stew. It’s also convenient, when we cook rice, if we make more than needed, to leave it aside without the sauce or the ingredients we want to put in it, so that we can use it for other recipes.
To preserve bread better, as our grandmothers used to do, it is good to keep it covered with a damp cloth: this way, it will not dry so soon. However, if it dries, it can be used to make soups or toasts, or for salads.
It will also be very useful, if we have eggs about to expire, to boil them and use them for soups or salads, or mix them with meat or fish recipes.
And most importantly, let’s not forget to repurpose the fruit that is about to spoil: we can use it to make fruit salads, smoothies, jams, or cakes. In conclusion: the important thing is to reduce the amount of food we end up throwing in the rubbish.
Law against food waste
The volume of food waste in the world is so big and so worrying that governments have had to push for laws to stop it. And, in this sense, the 3/2020 Law of March 11 on prevention of food loss and waste was approved in 2020 in Catalonia. Apart from that, there are different mobile applications where supermarkets and restaurants sell leftover food of the day at very low prices, such as the Too Good To Go app.
There is a lot of work to be done so that food does not end up in the rubbish of every town and city on the planet. 11Onze wants to do its little bit with these tips, wishing that in the very near future, we all act with greater awareness and responsibility against food waste.
Sustainable tourism or ecotourism is the fastest-growing tourism sector in the world and is based on the preservation of natural spaces and the sustainable development of communities. The benefits are many, but are we willing to pay more to contribute?
“Catalonia is a benchmark in ecotourism.” The words of Héctor Ceballos-Lascurain, father of ecotourism, describe the complex but optimistic scenario that this sector is experiencing in Catalonia. If done correctly, the benefits it can bring are multiple and cross-cutting, starting with breaking with seasonality and decentralising tourism.
Commit to sustainability in every action
The first thing to be clear about is that any decision is likely to be sustainable, from choosing a zero-mile restaurant, prioritising a local beer, going shopping at the summer village market instead of large multinationals, buying swimwear at local businesses, or even choosing children’s camps, with proposals such as the Ecocolònies of Fundació Pere Tarrés.
If we shell out the activities we carry out during holiday periods, we find that they all have a sustainable alternative. Doing so, even with small actions, can have a big impact.
Are we willing to pay more for sustainable proposals?
Gerard Bofill, owner of Can Buch ECOTurisme, is clear: “Undoubtedly. Obviously in a proportionate way, but people want authentic and natural experiences.” The figures support his words, and as early as 2017, the international year of tourism, a FITUR study pointed out that 83% of tourists were willing to pay more for a sustainable hotel, especially younger tourists.
A trend that is part of a widespread change in consumption. In Spain, the annual per capita expenditure on organic products is €46.6, 10% more than the previous year. The trend is clear, but it is still far from countries such as Denmark or Switzerland, where this figure amounts to €312.
On a global level, the growth of this type of tourism has led to the creation of the Global Ecotourism Network, with the aim of promoting sustainable tourism that unites communities. In the coming years, ecotourism will grow from $181 billion in 2019 to almost $334 billion in 2027, according to a forecast by Allied Market Research.
The pandemic promotes ecotourism in Catalonia
In recent months, ecotourism has increased in Catalonia due to the pandemic and mobility restrictions. By the time they were able to open, many accommodations like Can Buch noticed “a lot more demand and concern to travel within our territory, to return to rural environments.”
And if the concern to know our environment increases, so does the interest in preserving it. It has happened in the Natural Park of the Delta de l’Ebre, a protected area since 1983, where it has been possible to create tourist proposals of all kinds with a common goal: to preserve the territory and its biodiversity and to bet on environmental awareness.
The proposals in Catalonia are many, and another example are greenways, the itineraries for cyclists and hikers along ancient railway tracks. An example that sustainability and economy are not at odds.
The positive footprint of ecotourism
The impact of tourism on economies is so strong that it is included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, set out in the 2030 Agenda. Business development, sustainable energy system, giving value to activities such as agriculture, or promoting diversity between territories. If it is developed consciously, it can contribute to the sustainable development of many sectors.
For Bofill, betting on these experiences can serve to “generate ideological currents that make people gradually become aware that things can always be done with a different vision.” New forms of tourism will undoubtedly lead to new results.
Betting on ecotourism, therefore, can in some cases mean paying more for accommodation, food, or clothing, but it is an expense that reverts to society in one way or another. And you, are you willing to pay to contribute?
Its design is attractive, innovative, and functional. But if the Closca bottle wasn’t so pretty, you’d probably choose it for its brand values as well.
Closca is an emerging Valencian company that, driven by sustainability and respect for the environment, has created two iconic successful products: Closca Helmet, a light and safe helmet, which can be folded; and Closca Bottle, made of stainless steel and thermal, to take water everywhere. Its latest creation is Closca Mask, a careful design to protect us.
This inspiration for the change in the way of producing, facing the challenge of being respectful of nature, led Closca to be the only company in Spain chosen by Richard Branson, philanthropist and founder of Virgin, to be present in 2019 at the Finding my virginity meeting, aimed at finding leaders for the companies of the future.
Its founder and CEO, Carlos Ferrando, defines the company’s approach as: “inspiring a change of attitude and helping to solve today’s great challenges through design and innovation.” A quality design that has won awards such as the RedDot Design Award for Closca Helmet and Closca Bottle.
Closca Bottle: drink water thinking about the future
Made of stainless steel, its materials are absolutely free of invisible toxic components of plastic, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, with a healthy result for people and good for the environment. It does not add strange flavours to the water and its thermal capacity allows it to keep its contents cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 hours. In addition, an innovative silicone flap allows you to attach it anywhere and wear it more comfortably.
But innovation goes beyond its design with the launch of the Closca Water App: the bottle includes an NFC connection that allows you to find the nearest point where you can refill it with water, thanks to the agreements between Closca and many establishments.
Synergies to move forward and change attitudes
Hidrosalud, for example, is one of the companies with which Closca has decided to join forces, with the ambitious goal of launching actions to end plastic pollution. Hidrosalud is a manufacturer and distributor of water purifiers and dispensers with a commitment to local water supply and removal of plastics and pollution.
These two companies, together and through the Closca Water App, allow us to monitor all the plastic you save every time you fill your bottle and invite us to be part of the #MyLastPlasticBottle movement.
The same spirit leads them to a commitment to sustainable mobility and the collaboration with the best manufacturers of electric bicycles, such as Angell Bike, which has chosen Closca Helmet and Closca Bottle as the best accessories for your e-bike vehicles, the lightest on the market. The basic idea of this collaboration: the commitment to our planet.
11Onze has also chosen Closca for the design of its corporate bottles, attracted by this same purpose of creating a community that puts into action the best ideas. Innovative projects that change things, such as eliminating plastic from our daily uses and saving thousands of tons of CO₂ in emissions.
Low Emission Zones (ZBE) were established permanently in Catalonia in 2020 with a clear objective: to reduce pollution. This established the system of environmental badges that allow you to circulate, or not, depending on the pollution generated by your vehicle.
Since last September, and with a delay due to the pandemic, only vehicles with an environmental badge can circulate in the ZBE. This restriction is limited to Monday to Friday from 7am to 8pm and may result in penalties for vehicles that do not comply. Let’s review everything you need to know about environmental badges and their application.
Is it compulsory to wear the sticker?
The regulations state that it is not compulsory to have the badge on the windscreen, so it is not subject to a fine, although it is highly recommended in order to facilitate the police’s control work. If you do not have the sticker, you will have to prove that the vehicle is roadworthy with the car’s documentation.
We can be fined, but only if our vehicle is not authorised to circulate in this zone on the specified days and hours.
Therefore, it is not compulsory to have the sticker attached and visible on our vehicle, but there are moratoriums that affect professional vehicles and lorries. Van drivers have been able to drive without a sticker until 1 April 2021, lorries can still do so until 1 January 2022, and when it comes to buses and coaches the moratorium ends on 1 July 2022.
Are there any exceptions?
There are authorisations to circulate even if our badge says otherwise. You can ask for up to ten per year, and they cost €2 (except for low income families). However, they will be revoked in the event of a pollution episode.
Exceptions also apply to special or essential services and to people with reduced mobility or low income, subject to prior justification.
Which badge do I get?
The Dirección General de Tráfico has created four badges, classified according to fuel, emissions level and year of registration: Zero emissions, ECO, C (green), or B (yellow). All of these will be able to circulate without restrictions in the ZBE. Therefore, petrol vehicles and vehicles prior to 2000, or prior to 2006 in the case of diesel, will be excluded.
If you have not received your sticker at home free of charge, you will have to go to the post office. Only some post offices will be able to give it to you on the spot, otherwise you will have to make a request, either in person or online, and wait between three and five days, for a €5 fee.
Are the regulations already in force?
The ZBE came into force in January 2020 to restrict the circulation of vehicles within the city, specifically the area within the Ronda de Dalt and Ronda Litoral, which means that Hospitalet de Llobregat is also affected, as well as the part of Esplugues, Cornellà and San Adrià del Besòs that are within the area of the ring roads.
The restriction is permanent on weekdays between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm, and you have to be alert because it can be extended on days with high pollution, a circumstance that can also mean an extra restriction on driving in this area.
In short, we cannot be fined for not having the badge attached to the windscreen, but we can be fined if we drive in an unauthorised zone for our vehicle without authorisation. Therefore, knowing the regulations ad complying with them is compulsory for everyone.
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Getting around the city in a car has long been a headache, especially if you drive a car. The sheer number of cars on the streets of the city means that many hours are wasted on journeys, it costs us a lot of money (fuel, parking) and our health suffers from the generated pollution.
In recent years, however, a new concept of urban transport has emerged: Micro Mobility. The streets are increasingly full of people who use light, small means of transport with a low-power electric motor or no motor at all: mopeds, scooters and bicycles. These vehicles are generally driven by a single person (so-called personal mobility vehicles: PMVs) and can be used to travel short distances (maximum 8 kilometres) to their destination or to a public transport stop.
On the channel of the EU’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), they explain everything you need to know about Micro Mobility.
Vehicles can be owned or shared. In big cities, different companies have launched mobile applications that allow you to locate a two-wheeled vehicle, unlock it, use it and pay for the service without hassle. In a short time, ride-sharing companies have been created, and they offer their vehicles through mobile apps. While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed expansion, mainly because of total confinement, many companies have not neglected the business opportunity offered by this paradigm shift in mobility. For example, SEAT launched car sharing software in 2020 through its subsidiary Seat Mó. Other operators that can be found in cities are Cityscoot, Cooltra, Acciona, Tucycle, Yego, etc.
Benefits of micro-mobility
The benefits of micro-mobility are obvious, both in terms of its positive impact on congestion levels and air pollution; challenges that many large cities around the world must face.
According to a study by global consultancy McKinsey, around 60% of car journeys in the EU, China and the US are less than eight kilometres. Micro Mobility could theoretically reach all of these trips and take between 8% and 15% of the market. However, McKinsey concludes that this expansion is limited due to certain constraints related to the difficulty of transporting goods, the age of users or the climate in different cities.
However, the use of VMPs is not all advantages. If the debate on the difficult coexistence in public space between bicycles, cars and pedestrians is still very much alive, the entry of personal mobility vehicles has added a new safety hazard by adding a new category of vulnerable road users, especially in relation to the indiscriminate use of scooters on roads and pavements, endangering pedestrians and themselves. This is yet another example of how cities need to rethink the organisation of public space to accommodate new forms of smart mobility.
With this goal, on 2 January 2021, the regulations issued by the Dirección General de Tráfico on the use of scooters and MPVs (with one or more wheels and a single seat) came into force. This regulation defines and considers scooters as vehicles for all purposes, so they are obliged to comply with traffic regulations, just like cars or motorbikes (alcohol, drugs, use of mobile phones, use of headphones, etc.). This regulation excludes vehicles for people with reduced mobility. The regulation states that scooters have to circulate between 6 and 25 km/h and can never circulate on pavements, interurban roads, crossings, motorways, dual carriageways or urban tunnels.
On the other hand, the DGT is preparing a manual which will indicate the technical characteristics that these vehicles must comply with, as a basis for obtaining the circulation certificate, which will be compulsory two years after the publication of the aforementioned resolution. This is a first regularisation of the new forms of mobility, since, in the future, the DGT plans to draw up new regulations to regulate more aspects, such as, for example, the age for driving scooters, the use of helmets or reflective jackets, etc. For the time being, it is the responsibility of each local council to regulate the use of helmets and protective elements or parking regulations.
Micro Mobility has arrived and seems to be emerging as a real alternative to four-wheeled vehicles. With 60% of the world’s population expected to live in megacities – cities with more than 10 million inhabitants – by 2030, and the current 30 to become 40, the benefits and advantages of individual mobility vehicles will undoubtedly make cities healthier, more walkable and friendlier places to live.
New lifestyles in the city call for redevelopment. With this in mind, we improve urban centres and work on the recovery of neighbourhoods. In particular, the 2020 pandemic has highlighted the need to make cities grow in a more sustainable way.
2020 was a year of mandatory revolution for thousands of sectors, and the redevelopment of cities was not left out. With mobility, economy and social life around the world at a standstill, the demand for action on the sustainability of cities became more than obious. The current situation forces us all to speed up the implementation of measures such as the action plan to integrate sustainability and health in cities, from the Servei de Plans i Programes de la Generalitat de Catalunya, approved three years ago and which advocated for the concept of friendly and healthy cities.
Paris has already designed its ecological transformation
Cities in general continue to be the places on the planet with the highest levels of atmospheric pollution, which is responsible for thousands of deaths. In many of Catalonia’s cities, this chronic mortality linked to air pollution reached historic lows during confinement. On the other hand, confinement highlighted the limitations of cities in terms of being able to do sport and go out for walks, and made it clear that there is an urgent need to redesign cities in terms of urban planning in order to improve people’s health.
Confinement reduces pollution
The pandemic has opened our eyes and made us experience first-hand the need to redevelop big cities. And this is what the Servei de Plans i Programes intends to do, with its first tool in its hands, the Institute for Global Health, ISGlobal. As a curiosity, Barcelona is at the top of the list in a study done by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) on the most polluted cities in the world. Even so, confinement brought pollution in Catalonia down to historic lows.
Tips for sustainable cities
But there is still time, and ISGlobal gives us five tips for more sustainable cities. As a starting point, it recommends improving air quality, which is considered a priority for governments, city councils and urban planners. According to ISGlobal, 7 out of 10 people will be living in urban environments thirty years from now. The second issue is noise, as ISGlobal explains, 13 million people in Europe suffer from sleep disorders due to noise, which is responsible for 36% of the health problems caused by poor urban planning. We understand that noise must be reduced in cities by reducing speed, or also by promoting quiet areas such as green spaces. The third point is natural spaces, we need a city with more green spaces to benefit people’s health, especially when we know that studies link natural spaces with the improvement of children’s attention span. Green spaces reduce stress, increase life expectancy and improve our general health. As a fourth point we have physical activity; and so increasing our physical activity levels has to be integrated into the need for good city design, as sedentary lifestyles are a serious global health problem that needs to be addressed. The final area for improvement is temperature. In big cities it rises on average by two to four degrees during the day and by about ten degrees at night, leading to premature births, mortality, traffic accidents and accidents at work.
Undoubtedly, cities need to be redeveloped, and this must be done with the improvement of people’s health in mind, not economic improvement, redesigning every corner of every city and every neighbourhood so that in the not too distant future we can find the time to live in them and enjoy every corner. And right now, it is no longer a necessity but an urgency that must be acted upon without delay.