A greener city, better suited to walking and playing

Two new initiatives aim to give priority to pedestrians and to cut traffic speeds in the city to 30 km/h, making public space safer, healthier and more pleasant. The idea is a new mobility model, committed to combatting the climate crisis and putting journeys on foot at the heart of municipal policies.

25/01/2020 09:31 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The climate emergency declaration covers a series of measures putting pedestrians at the centre of mobility in the city by transforming public space into a safer, more amiable and less polluting environment. Street calming, the implementation of superblocks and improvements to areas around schools are just some of the measures to help change the model for the city. Two more initiatives have now been announced: ‘Open Streets’ and ’30 City’.

‘Open Streets’

The ‘Open Streets’ project takes its inspiration from the measures applied during Car Free Day, held annually as part of European Mobility Week and designed to win back space for exclusive use by pedestrians. The initiative is about drawing attention to the impact of traffic in big cities, particularly the most congested streets, and will be implemented in Barcelona on the first weekend of every month, as from February.

Specifically, on Saturday afternoons from 5 pm to 9 pm, and on Sunday mornings from 10 am to 3 pm, various city streets will be completely closed to traffic and opened up for local people to stroll around, play and take part in sports and community activities.

The goals of this measure are to:

  • Highlight the benefits of street calming for people, such as better health, more space to share and to play in and the promotion of sustainable mobility.
  • Raise awareness on the effects of motor vehicles and pollution on people’s health.
  • Give visibility to alternative uses for public space.
  • Propose a change of habits in terms of mobility, with the promotion of public transport, journeys on foot or by bike, and a reduction in the use of private transport.

The measure will start being implemented on Saturday 1 February, with C/ Gran de Gràcia being cut to traffic between Pl. Nicolás Salmerón and C/ Nil Fabra, and in Via Laietana, between Pl / Urquinaona and Pl. Antonio López. The first weekend in March will see traffic restricted in C/ Creu Coberta – C/ Sants, between Pl. Espanya and C/ Arizala, and in C/ Aragó, between C/ Tarragona and Av. Meridiana.

The first two months of this measure will free up 209,780 square metres of space for use by local people, with an estimated reduction of 100,000 vehicles. More streets will gradually be included in the initiative, the goal being to open up ten main streets (one in each district) every weekend by the end of the year.

‘30 City’

Barcelona is taking on the challenge of becoming a 30 km/h city, a metropolis where this is the maximum speed for vehicles. This measure is needed to improve safety for pedestrians, cut the number of accidents and the severity of injuries. Cutting maximum speeds from 50 km/h to 30 km/h cuts the mortality rate from 45% to 5% in cases of people being run over.

Another 212 kilometres of city streets will get 30 km/h speed limits in the next two years, accounting for 75% of the city’s driveable roads. The goal is for Barcelona to end up establishing 30 km/h as a citywide speed limit.

The first streets will be those in the city’s secondary road network, with more than one lane of traffic, and in line with measures applied in the main network. Fewer vehicles use the secondary network, with streets that cater more for local residents and needs. In contrast, the main network includes a series of streets which the city’s mobility is based around and which, as a result, carry greater traffic volumes, connecting districts and neighbourhoods and providing routes for public transport.

The 30 km/h speed limits will be introduced in two stages:

In 2020:

  • 30 km/h speed limits to be decreed for all streets in the city’s secondary road network in February, including those with more than one lane or more than one lane in each direction.
  • Action in the first road in the main network, the axis of C/ Creu Coberta – C/ Sants, applying the 30 km/h speed limit there.
  • At the end of 2020 there will be a total of 112 kilometres of 30 km/h streets, representing 67.7% of the length of the city’s streets.
  • A series of measures will also be applied to guarantee that traffic regulations are respected in streets with 30 km/h speed limits, such as radar, elevated pedestrian crossings, speed bumps and signage.

In 2021:

  • Action to be taken directly in the main road network, starting with the following streets: Via Laietana, Carrer de Jordi Girona, Carrer de Mandri, Travessera de Gràcia, Carretera del Carmel, Avinguda de la Mare de Déu de Montserrat, Carrer del Doctor Pi i Molist, Passeig de Torras i Bages, Carrer dels Almogàvers, Passeig del Taulat, Carrer de la Diputació and Carrer del Consell de Cent. Other streets to follow.
  • In all, this represents an additional 100 kilometres of streets with 30 km/h limits, meaning 75% of the city’s roads will have speed limits of 30 km/h or lower.


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