Samuel Martin-Sosa Rodriguez, an interview

Samuel Martin works as International Coordinator for the Spanish NGO Ecologistas en Acción.
He was one of
the very first persons who supported
the idea of organising an ECI and he is now our Spanish member
of the citizens´ committee.


Question: Some personal information you want to share?

Samuel: I ride my bike almost every day to work. it is around 15 km one way and another 15 the way back. I’ve been using the bike as my mode of transport in my hometown (Salamanca) since I was almost a child. But I must say to do it in Madrid is a quite risky activity, and the first years I was quite scared. Cars simply ignore bicycles in Madrid. You have no rights. it is also risky from the health point of view, as you go breathing all the exhaust smokes. but I do it because I claim the city as a space (also) for bikes


You were among the very first persons to spontaneously support the idea of an ECI für 30 km/h. What were the reasons you had for this?

Samuel: I think the city should be a liveable place for all, including children and eldery. When I was a kid it was a current thing to go out, to the streets on your own to play with the over kids or to go to school. In Spain no parents dare now to allow their kids to go on their own in the streets, as they are perceived as a too dangerous place, partly due to car traffic. I have 3 little kids and I wish something different for them. I wish they grow up as persons with a high degree of autonomy.

What do you personally think are the most important benefits of slower urban speeds?

Samuel: I think a great holistic benefit is a more peaceful life. Difficult to measure, but nobody can deny its importance. All the other benefits (safety, clean air, Climate change benefit,….) are somehow included there, as they are key elements for a better life.


Are negative effects of traffic an issue for your country at all? If so, could you give us a few keywords about what is affecting people most?

Samuel: Only in reference to car accidents.
In my country a key issue linked to car traffic is air pollution. 20.000 people die prematurely in Spain for this reason. That is far many more casualties then those originated by road accidents, however little or no attention is payed to it. Despite of it, policy makers adopt wrong decisions as obliging cyclist to wear helmet for the sake of security, ignoring the discouraging effect it has on users, and disregarding much powerful measures as the city 30km


Do you think that a transnational movement for 30 km/h, throughout Europe, can make a difference?

Samuel: I am convinced it will help a lot, at least in a country like mine,were, in general there is still a lot to do in terms of sustainable mobility. The fact that there is a European echo of our demands will contribute to be taken serious by decision makers.


Your favourite way of travelling?

Samuel: Inside the city I love to go by bike. For longer distances I love the train. I am writting these words from one, indeed.

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