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Bilbao slows down to slow pollution

Bilbao and its metropolitan area have undergone a profound transformation over the past 30 years. The city is shaking up its industrial past and reducing pollution.

In addition to the pedestrianization of the whole old town and many shopping streets in the city center, the local authorities have opted for the creation of an increasingly sustainable public transport system, which includes trams, subways as well as hybrid and electric city buses. They have also created an extensive network of cycle paths and rental bicycles to easily get around the city.

A year ago, Bilbao became the first city with more than 300,000 inhabitants to lower the speed limit from 50 to 30 km / h in all urban areas.

The Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Mobility and Sustainable Development, Alfonso Gil, is satisfied with the results of all these changes. “We have better air quality, so less pollution, less smoke and less noise. We have lowered the noise level in the city by two to three decibels and there are also fewer accidents, ”he explains.

These measures were combined with a major public awareness campaign and earned Bilbao the Urban Road Safety Award, an honor bestowed on the city by the European Commission during European Mobility Week.

The measures affect the entire population but especially certain sectors, such as taxi drivers. Eduard, a city taxi driver, told euronews that the new speed limits slow down their work and mean they have to work longer hours.

Some critics are protesting having to drive at 30 km / h on some of the two-way urban roads that do not have residential areas around. However, no changes are expected in the boundaries and the rules are expected.

Several radars have already been installed in the city to sanction those who drive too fast, and 29 more should be installed. Local authorities are committed to making people change.

As Amaia Arregi, deputy mayor and security adviser, says, “The radars are there so that when you walk past them you know whether you are complying or not.” She explains that whether the speed cameras are just informative or not, people slow down in front of them.

Bilbao was one of the cities awarded by the European Commission. Grenoble, Lilienthal and Mönchengladbach were also on the list.

This story is part of Mobility Week on Euronews. From September 13 to 17, 2021, we explore the trends shaping the future of transportation and personal mobility. See more stories here.


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