Palma's Mayor, Joan Fageda, denied yesterday that the opening of one side of the Borne to two-way traffic and all types of vehicles was not “a step backwards” in the city's Mobility Plan. Instead, he said, it is merely “a parenthesis in our project until the car parks in the Via Roma and the Avenida Antoni Maura are completed.” The new system came into operation yesterday and police were out in force to direct drivers, who were puzzled by the changes. But there were no incidents reported, although at times there were long tailbacks. It is the side where the Casal Solleric is that has been opened to two way traffic. The other side remains closed to all vehicles and is for pedestrians only. The step was taken after shopkeepers in the area brought pressure to bear, claiming sales are down. But many residents say that it is a step backwards in the application of the city's Mobility Plan, designed originally to persuade drivers to leave their cars at home and travel to the city centre by public transport. The fiercest critics of the city council's decision are the members of the United Left-Greens (EU-EV) on the opposition, who have accused the council of failing to apply many measures agreed on for the development of the mobility study and going back on other decisions. “This contradicts the spirit and the letter of the mobility study,” councillor Jordi López said. He added that the decisions show that despite all the conservative Popular Party's rhetoric in favour of a more sustainable transport system, the bottom line is that it favours the use of cars by buiding car parks instead of alternative measures, such as routes for pedestrians, a network of bike only lanes or improvements to the EMT (the municipal bus company). A Mobility Advisory Body was set up in October 2001 to debate ways of improving traffic in the city centre, but it has lost steam, despite its good intentions, López said. Its original intention was to meet twice a month, but so far this year only three meetings have been held, he said yesterday.

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