When they first introduced the summer traffic restrictions for Formentor, someone must have reckoned that 7pm would be late enough as no one would ever go there after seven o’clock. Come that sort of time, and tourists - the British and the Germans especially - would be strolling along the front in Puerto Pollensa, making their way to one of many a fine establishment in search of tapas or Mallorcan lamb. Afterwards, a couple of massive G&Ts and it would be time for some shuteye. Formentor? Nice to look at as the sun sets. But actually going there to see the sunset?
Put a restriction in place, and eventually someone - someone other than the someone who came up with 7pm - will seek to exploit this. Which is precisely what happened. And it wasn’t just someone. There were loads of them. Whole coach loads in fact, as excursions operators, barred between 10am and 7pm, spied a very decent opportunity, especially as other attractions were on the Covid blacklist.
With Covid in mind, an abundance of ventilation was on offer by the lighthouse, at the mirador or the watchtower. Coaches weren’t the only vehicles winding their way along the peninsula from one minute after seven in the evening. There were cars as well. Loads of them, too. Saturation, both human and vehicle, was thus being crammed into a window of opportunity provided by the very restrictions that were supposed to have put a stop to saturation. Moreover, some of these humans were transporting all manner of paraphernalia with them. Entire DJ systems, for instance.
Plus the DJs. And wow, just look at that sunset and how it appears so much better when accompanied by a case of chilled white wine.
The opportunity taken, and “the authorities” realised they had a problem. They - Pollensa town hall, the regional government, the Council of Mallorca, and the traffic directorate - gathered to sort the problem out, and the solution was published in the Official Bulletin on Wednesday. There was no oversight like last year, when an unnamed authority failed to do the necessary publishing, which meant that two months’ worth of fines’ revenue for driving without authorisation from Puerto Pollensa to Formentor beach were null and void. Great care was therefore taken to ensure the regulation met this year’s deadline.
And so, between June 15 and September 15, 7pm will become 10.30pm - 10am to 10.30pm, twelve and a half hours a day of restriction. When this later time was first mooted, it was pointed out that there might be an issue with the bus, the one provided by the Mallorca Transport Consortium (Council and government) for taking visitors to Formentor who previously would have driven there. The bus timetable was according to the traffic restrictions.
Come 7pm and there was no longer the need for the bus (especially as everyone was piling onto a coach instead). The government says that the bus timetable will be extended, which is of course a recognition that people do go to Formentor after seven, a fact which previously seemed to have been ignored.
The later time is designed to eliminate the sunset chaos that was particularly evident last summer, and it doubtless will do. But what might happen from 10.31pm? Midnights at the mirador. Light up the lighthouse with portable light shows and accompanying DJs. Watch the sunrise from the watchtower.
I suppose we’ll find out. Meantime, Mayor Tomeu Cifre is arguing the need for automated access control to the road and better information to prevent the barrage of fines that were doled out last year, even if many of them proved not to be valid. The means of avoiding a fine - for going as far as the beach and hotel (not that there is a hotel as such for the time being) - is to remain in place. This is the curious business of emailing a copy of a receipt for purchase of something to Trafico within three days.
And then there is of course what happens up to June 14 and from September 16. Last year’s experience was mid-September saturation.
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