A boy of around 8 years old rides a bicycle through the coastal road of Vicente López Any given Saturday, believing that he is safe. But behind him he has two cars and two more pass by. This postcard was impossible three weeks ago, until on December 6, the municipality enabled and expanded the car traffic in one of the few remaining green spaces for pedestrians in the district. Neighbors organized themselves and organized demonstrations since then to stop the measure, which also violates a 2005 Ordinance.
The pandemic brought about the cessation of the circulation of cars by the also called “Paseo de la Costa” during the last two years. Logically, given the restrictions that governed closed spaces, many residents of the area took the opportunity to recover the 44 hectares of this green space in the district, but particularly occupied the 2.6 kilometers for pedestrians, runners, cyclists and rollers on the two lanes of Raúl Alfonsin street.
In December, the municipality of Vicente López announced with great fanfare a “Comprehensive Plan for Circulation and Renewal of Access to Paseo de la Costa”, that established the reopening of vehicular circulation. But the outgoing mayor Jorge Macri and the interim mayor Soledad Martínez did not roll back the transit hours to those that were in force before, but rather extended them and enabled circulation on weekends and holidays.
What changes the coastal road underwent
Specifically, Macri and Martínez determined that vehicles can circulate on Alfonsín street in both ways. Direction to Capital, it is open 24 hours a day, while in the opposite direction it is open from Monday to Friday from 7 to 19.
The decision goes against the Ordinance 22393/2005, which established “only pedestrian access” in the sector between Arenales and Laprida streets, on Fridays from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays and holidays throughout the day.
The text of the regulation indicates that the “enormous audience” exceeded the expectations of those who projected the Paseo “and specifically indicates that”automobiles, trucks or motorcycles generate a great vehicular movement that, confused with the movement of people, makes their circulation dangerous “.
The claim of the neighbors of Vicente López
“We ask that the previous situation be returned. They say it is so that the traffic of cars is more organized, but we don’t want cars. We consider this to be a green and public space. We want a place to walk, to run, for the bikes to circulate and the children to ride on skates and not to be contaminated with car gases“, highlighted Page 12 Carlos Gurvitch, a self-organized neighbor who participated in the demonstration organized this Saturday in the road.
In line with the ordinance, neighbors warn that the decision to keep a lane in constant traffic confuses and represents “a danger” for families who choose the Paseo for being this “a unique, safe, vehicle-free space that encourages sports, activities and healthy outdoor life.” Even a police officer who approached the neighbors agreed that the system does not work. “For us the best thing is that they open everything because ‘mita y mita” is a shit, “he confessed.
The neighbors are in a plan of fight. They coordinated a protest in front of the municipality on December 29, coinciding with the presentation of a petition against the new measure. If no answers are obtained, on January 8 they will organize again to make the situation on Calle Alfonsín visible.
“It is not being considered and correctly evaluated what is lost by wanting to reverse an excellent measure that was taken when closing the circulation to promote outdoor activities with social distancing and the promotion of sports, healthy life and the open air”, on the other hand, it points out a request in the platform change, which already has more than 1700 signatures.
The neighbors are used to the organization. In 2009 they also had to take to the streets when the then mayor Enrique “Japanese” García wanted to make a quick alternative to Avenida Libertador. “It cost us a lot, there were wounded and detained,” Flavia Affanni recalled to this newspaper. In June of that year, the police repressed with rubber bullets a march in opposition to the asphalt road on the riverbank. Another two times the Nobel Peace Prize himself, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, had to stop the violence with his presence.
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Vicente López: the municipality opened the circulation to the traffic of cars in the pedestrian coastal road | Neighbors demand that at least weekends and holidays be closed to vehicles