Burgos and Gezi Square: contradiction?
Spain's El Mundo and El Periodico on Jan. 17 reported the heartening news that after weeks of angry protests, Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle announced a definitive end to his planned redevelopment of one of the city's main traffic arteries, citing the "impossibility" of moving ahead with the plan. Protesters had opposed the 8 million euro project both as a waste of money better spent on social programs and as a scheme to accelerate the city's gentrification. BBC News reports that the project to trasnform Calle Vitoria into a new boulevard called for a bike lane and green spaces to replace two of the thoroughfare's four traffic lanes. Free parking spaces were also to be replaced with a paid underground car lot.
This initially seems a contrast with last year's protest movement in Turkey, which eventually won suspension of the government's plan to raze Gezi Park, a green space in downtown Isrtanbul, to make way for a shopping center. Gezi Park, and the protests in Brazil over plans to raze favelas to make way for football stadiums, pointed to a convergence on the global stage between issues of class justice and issues of urban ecology and control of space. But as we've noted from New York City, modest plans to limit traffic congestion and accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians have been intimately wedded to gentrification—representing elite recuperation of progressive ideas, and pointing out (yes, again) the lack of any good options under capitalism.