Since being granted our new freedom to roam, my commitment to documenting my daily lockdown life through this blog has wavered, as most of my free time is now dedicated to making up for such a long sedentary period with morning runs and evening strolls. It is exciting to drift around the city again and each outing I’ve done in the last week has filled me with nothing but happiness. The fear that filled the streets during the fifty long days of strict lockdown has been replaced by a feeling of relief that the worst is now over.
Unlike the vast majority of Spain, the region of Madrid has been denied its progression to phase one by the national government. This means that our limited liberties will not change for at least another week and dreams of meeting up with friends – legally at least, because it seems most people are already running the risk of getting a €600 fine to go for an unlawful walk or bike ride with their mates – have been postponed once again. While dangling the freedoms of phase one in front of our eyes yet just out of reach, the government has chosen to reward Madrileños by closing main roads to cars at weekends for the foreseeable future, one of them being the Paseo de la Castellana which cuts through the centre of city from north to south. In normal times this eight-lane, pollution-filled beast of a road serves as the main artery of the city that anybody without a car tries to avoid. However, the dawn this morning saw an army of cyclists, runners and skaters reclaiming this no-go zone, giving it a new sense of purpose and breathing a new life into it.
I know everyone out enjoying these closed roads will hope that these sorts of measures outlive the virus. The sheer numbers of people out exercising this morning shows how much we have missed being in big, open spaces. The government should channel this energy and new way of thinking to implement positive change, re-emerging from this quarantine with new priorities about the way cities work for people. The last few weeks have shown that our behaviours have changed and with that our environments must do the same.