Limiting the number of vehicles (1): data from Menorca

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The debate on limiting the number of vehicles that accumulate in Menorca during the summer is an issue in which public interest grows year to year with the increase in number of tourists and subsequent overcrowding.

The example of Formentera has achieved very satisfactory results showing positive aspects both in mobility and in tourist improvements (that we will talk about in greater detail in a future article).

In Menorca the Law of the Reserve of the Biosphere already allows its Governing Council to establish a maximum number of cars allowed in the summer.

Also, in existence, is a study made by the Centre for Studies in Transport and Mobility analysing the current movement of vehicles on the island. This work, commissioned by the Menorca Governing Council (Consell), has produced interesting data. GOB has consulted this publicly funded document.

Focusing on rental vehicles

A study was published in 2023, outlining the reality of the island’s mobility in 2022. By monitoring mobility on Menorcan roads, it can be deduced that the private vehicles of non-residents represent 45% of daily trips.

Of this percentage, 2% are carried out by owner’s vehicles (that were transported here by boat), leaving 43% carried out by rental vehicles. This data, although it can change over the years depending on the frequency of the shipping companies, shows the need to focus on the fleet that arrives in Menorca for rental.

The months and the roads become saturated

The increase in transport movement starts in May. According to a study carried out in 2022, this deals with a 2% increase that does not require measures to be taken over the general public transport promotion.

However, in the month of June, the surplus of vehicles based on the capacity of the Menorcan road network stood at 17% and in July rose to 29%. It reached 30% in August then 19% in September. By October the number was no longer appreciable.

The busiest sections in the Summer are between Mao and Sant Lluis and the main road (Carretera General) connecting Ciutadella and Cala Blanca.

Proposal for progressive reductions for non-residents’ vehicles

As has been done in Formentera, work carried out on what is the reality in Menorca, proposes to establish a system of control on the number of vehicles increasing the summer fleet by combining recommendations and making restrictions.

It is proposed to establish a progressive annual density grading, especially of rental vehicles, so as to reduce the 30% excess currently registered for July and August and nearly 20% for June and September.

Between October and April, it would not be necessary to apply restrictions although it would be better to improve public transport and promote it for the resident population with the aim of also reducing a percentage of journeys currently made by private vehicles.

In this sense, we should be kept in mind that the decarbonisation strategy of Menorca does not just focus on electrical energy that can be replaced by renewable energies, but also aims to reduce the consumption of combustible fuels used for land transport, by at least 50%.

For these reasons, the measures aimed at restrictions on non-residents’ vehicles used in the summer and those aimed at changing habits towards a greater presence of public transport would translate into improvements in the quality of life and the tourist experience of visitors.

What the Biosphere Reserve Law says

The Law 3/23 of Minorca Biosphere Reserve states that the Island Council can determine the limitation of the entrance to Minorca of all types of motor vehicles, the maximum number of vehicles that can circulate around the island in a defined period, as well as the maximum number of motor vehicles destined for hire without a driver that can enter the island annually for commercialisation.
The regulation of the influx of these motor vehicles can take place as soon as the law is passed (February 2023).

It is also foreseen that a distinction or badge must be used to accredit authorised vehicles, as well as adopting the appropriate measures for the inspection and control of the limitations that are determined. A regulation must be drawn up within a maximum period of three years, although this does not prevent the measures from being taken earlier. Exceptions to this limitation are vehicles owned by people who live in Minorca, or by non-residents who own a home on the island.

A measure that should be urgently implemented in Minorca

The growing tourist overcrowding on the island requires taking urgent measures because it is degrading the distinctive offer that Menorca has maintained and that is now causing serious problems for the resident population.

The limitation of vehicles can help largely in stopping this dynamic, which is currently turning Menorca into the model of the other islands.

GOB is encouraging the Island Governing Council to take this debate seriously without turning it into a political argument.

It should be remembered that Formentera had political unanimity and that Ibiza (governed by the Partido Popular) is asking for a Law like that of Menorca to be able to follow suit.