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Published by jack elliot

In 2016, the municipal police of Pontevedra  in Spain did not impose a single speeding ticket.

Just as in the previous year and for the other years.

Pontevedra does not have speed  radars.

No fatal accidents.

The last one was four years ago.

In the past decade,

serious losses were reduced by 90%:

In the past 30 people  would have died between 1996 and 2006,

Only three people have  lost their lives

during the last ten years.


This is unprecedented in any other Spanish city.

There are no miracles,

the results are pure statistical logic in action.


All the other Spanish cities were filled with cars

but the trend reversed here:


70% of the trips previously covered by cars

 are now done on foot or by bicycle.

Only three out of ten people

who travel around the city do so by car.

And it is known that pedestrians when they collide are rarely injured.


The formula goes far beyond the pedestrianisation

of the historic centre. 

CO2 emissions have fallen by 70%,

half a ton per inhabitant per year.

Contrary to what happened in all of Spain,

 72% of the population buy clothes by foot.

just 30% use their car.

2,000 schoolchildren

between six and 12 years old

are walking to class, mostly alone.


Pontevedra  has increased 12,000 inhabitants

since 2009.


And although the commerce has suffered the recent ravages of the present economic crisis,

they have closed much fewer stores.


This model used in  Pontevedra

has received many world awards.

 the UN recognised them with the Habitat prize

on its public space management.

New Orleans studied  their model so as to properly recover the French quarter after Hurricane Katrina.


A revolution without an absolute majority in the conservative Pontevedra council, it is a city where the  'people as god rules' .

 'From my office I open the window and now I hear the conversations on the street, something unthinkable when I arrived,' says the long sitting mayor


 The started to change the car situation in Pontevedra  in July 1999 and then in August had issued an ordinance to remove the 500 cars from the entire historic center.

they then Pedestrianised 300,000 square meters in the city centre. 

In the meetings of 200 two opposed, less than those that came out in the press to question the pedestianisation.

They  had the endorsement of the people,

who were in favour.

After a while all of  the opposition just slowly faded away.

The shops that had once opposed 

now defend pedestrianisation.

In one of the areas that we just put a garden, we proposed to leave a traffic lane.

Well, it was the assembly itself that told us that it was not necessary because there were no garages in that area.

It was a proposal from the neighbours because when they perceive a measure as good, they defend it.

 in addition to pedestrianising,

you have to generate activity.

If you do not put terraces, do not put on cultural actions, do not let the children play in the squares,  then parked cars will have won. 


People have to see that  everything improves and is getting cleaner and the trade grows along with the festivals  and the  cultural activity ...

So they had  first festival that was done with the funding of  100,000 euros so as  to make an accessibility project work. 

They had said 'give us the 100,000 euros that we are going to make accessibility directly work for everybody

On the  Carnival Friday and the rhythm

of the mid-morning bustle in the city

seems even slower than usual.


A car waits with the turn signals to cross to the garage in one of those streets with a single platform, same cobblestone for cars and pedestrians,

where pedestrians have priority.

A delivery van unloads pallets of beer

at a  city centre pub.

The mayor  made a speech:

'Did you notice that in Pontevedra nobody whistles?

People are very civic and everything works reasonably well.

Then there are those who lose privileges, bad luck.

The one that wanted to present himself with the chaos  into the mass of traffic  of Santa María, because there  it is going to be impossible.

To face these changes you also have

to do a didactic exercise,

I have not re-entered with my car in the historic center.

And when institutional visits come,

and I remember those of Manuel Fraga

[president of the Xunta between 1989 and 2005], they are asked to leave the official cars outside, which are not allowed here.

And when people perceive that neither Fraga

nor the mayor can put their cars here,

they see that this is for everyone. '

The success of the model is facilitated

by a compact city, six square kilometers,

where the longest journey is half an hour by foot

and almost all neighborhoods have the journey to the center only about fifteen minutes.

This is how the Metrominuto is drawn, a well-known local map that copies the ones of the Metro of the big cities and indicates the distances in minutes walking from the different zones.


'Look at that street, it's called Michelena. [Go a few more steps] And this is the Plaza de España where there was a lamp post in the middle and a kind of rotunda and the cars turned and left and entered. Well, there were 26,000 cars passing by.

Today they spend 500, 1,000, 2,500, I do not care, they spend the ones that have to happen. How is that controlled?

With the police, drivers are sometimes reminded that this is not happening here.

Unless you go to a garage, take a person to your house, have to pick up a package, here is not passed.

And if you do this, then this is regulated only practically.

Some police control is needed but not even much. And we also establish a series of loops without pivots, which we almost do not have, but what we do is that you have to take a few turns if you want to cross the city, in such a way that in the end the driver concludes that it is not worth it and leaves the car at home

And so the visitor leaves the car in the parking lot for two hours, pays two euros, and the one who comes to work, leaves the car in the parking deterrent without paying, walks five minutes and ready.

If you have to make a message, here people have room to stop half an hour without paying too.

It is the difference with other pedestrianisations, this leaves space for loading and unloading, to run errands.

The services are prized, the loading and unloading, that of Correos is already the fastest of the Spanish cities.

But it is logical because it has no traffic or retentions. If you go on a trip and have to unload your bags, in Pontevedra you can stop.

That is something that other cities have not resolved. '

The mayor insists that it is not about pedestrianising the four streets of the center.

'Mobility should inspire all municipal policy. It can not be that one makes the street and then another councilor comes to put the ramps for the disabled.

In that philosophy we must be all, politicians, municipal police and the neighborhood, 'and the same goes for school roads.

The Government of Pontevedra, which has just approved the budgets  defends that once the traffic is ordered, that the speed is limited to 30 kilometers per hour, those journeys

They are safe for everyone and parents trust that children can go to school by themselves.


The mayor is suspicious of the projects that are being started  in other territories where school roads are considered as isolated initiatives in cities full of cars.

And it is clear, the only way to recover space for people is to take it away from the private vehicle.

Neither even license plates nor electric cars.

The circulation of cars and motorcycles must be limited.

It says in a city with a mobile park comparable to the rest of Spanish cities.

In Pontevedra there are 54,741 vehicles registered (40,203 are cars) and 46 million journeys.

'We stole public space to the private car. If you have free parking in a street, stupid traffic is generated to search for parking in areas where there is not, everyone goes around to see if a car comes out. It is what is called congestion traffic.  We try to finish this congestion,

Yes the formula of Pontevedra is exportable, to the cities of up to 180,000 inhabitants that this can  be carried out  with similar experiences, 

 many more people will vote for the succesful project

A car should be an instrument that will take you and bring you but that does not mean you should eat the public space.

Bur then where do you  put the car?',

So  put it where it fits.


It is not the cities problem with  what each one does with their car because where they  can fit 10 cars,

they city could fit 100 people.

And the one who buys a car

is not buying a piece of public space.

We must not forget this.

We did not have to punish  everybody with excess  fines, people are aware of other possibilities.

The City centre  area was a degraded space and now can be improved.

They  have not reached all places,

there are still things to do

The philosophy is still valid. '

And the whole city has been impressed by it

. One of the latest initiatives has come from the teachers and students of the Barcelos school, a public center located in the centre.

The children had no place to play and the school proposed to the town hall to take the playground to the square.

For that, the traffic that circled it had to be cut.

An agreement was signed  so that the insurance covers possible accidents of school children in that street

. The girls do outdoor gymnastics and play on the sports courts where there was once a roundabout.

A teacher reminds students of megaphone in hand that until Wednesday there is no class.

Several of the children dressed as municipal police

ask to take pictures with the mayor,


For Cars kill children but not in this city anymore.

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