By Humphrey Carter
PALMA City council is offering drivers who use the capital's car parks, the loan of bicycles to get around the city centre and umbrellas on rainy days. The pilot scheme, not only the first of its kind in Spain, but the whole of Europe, has been designed in an attempt to encourage drivers to use the city's public car parks while also trying to boost the use of bicycles in the city, especially around the old part of the town, open only to residential traffic. Palma councillor for transport, Alvaro Gijón, the municipal car park body, SMAP, launched the new campaign yesterday, offering drivers the chance to leave their car and explore the city centre by bicycle. The pilot scheme involves 30 bicycles available at the Parc de la Mar underground car park.
There are 13 bicycles for men, 12 for women and the remaining five are for children. There is no extra charge, on top of the regular car parking rates, for using the bicycles. Helmets, locks and baby seats are also available.
In order to exchange your vehicle for a bicycle for a few hours, a form is filled in and the vehicle keys handed over as a deposit along with the car park ticket. Alvaro Gijón said yesterday that if the scheme proves a success, then it will be widened to include all of the city's car parks. “I'm sure it will work, especially on the weekends,” he proclaimed.
The umbrellas, however, will not be free.
On wet days, car park users, will have to pay a five euro deposit.
The umbrella initiative will be launched today with 200 umbrellas being delivered to the Par de la Mar, Via Roma, Santa Pagesa and Comte d´Empuries car parks.

Whether such an initiative will prove popular with the local population remains to be seen.
However, the bicycle hire companies which have started up in Palma over the past 18 months, are enjoying a great deal of success with visitors making full use of the Palma and Playa de Palma cycle route. This is the second initiative the council has launched this year to help boost trade in the city centre while making it easier for customers.
The one-hour free parking campaign for consumers shopping in the old town, an initiative which continues until June, appears to have proved popular.
Gijón said yesterday that, while it is still too early to reach any firm conclusions, around 12.000 free parking hours have been used.
Information leaflets about all these latest schemes are to be issued in Spanish, Catalan, English and German.

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