antes-y-ahora-alto300px

The new priorities

In the past, motorized vehicles reigned supreme. Today, the situation has changed quite radically and people have been placed at the top of the priority hierarchy.

Traffic of motorized vehiclesPanel-03-1

Before the transformation, traffic flows in Pontevedra were typical of a mobility scheme centered exclusively on cars.

  • Drivers crossing town as a shortcut.
  • Drivers accessing the city in search of a parking spot.
  • Drivers whose destination is in within city center.
el-trafico-a-motor-900x453px

Panel-03-2_1600x1000pxPeople before cars

Agreeing on the consideration of people as the most important of all the elements that have an impact on mobility marked the beginning of Pontevedra’s great urban reform: pedestrianizing, footpath creation, wider sidewalks, life-saving speed bumps, narrower car lanes, etc. Each major intervention provided new solutions for local residents, who saw the water distribution network renovated and their immediate surroundings refurbished.

Car free

The city has dramatically reduced the abusive presence of motorized vehicles, which had come to dominate the Historic Center, where more than 500 cars were parked for days on end, as well as in the outer rings. The establishment of car free areas and the enforcement of new mobility priorities have boosted the local economy, particularly the services sector and the cultural and creative industries. The city has become a rationally organized open space where coexistence of natural and mechanized traffic flows is possible, and where collective forms of transport take precedence over private cars.

Panel-04-1

Healthier and more natural


Walking is the most natural means of transportation for the human being. In addition, it is healthier and most efficient in densely populated urban areas. Any displacement within a three-kilometer radius –about half an hour– should ideally be covered on foot. This attitude contributes to healthy living, environmental balance and caring for the planet.

Traffic flows respond to people’s needs

The question that kick-started the transformation tried to determine the number of motorized vehicles that would be necessary for the city to keep functioning efficiently.

The result: very few. Non-essential cars should remain either in the parking areas located in the outer rings or in private garages.

Panel-05-1

Each street is unique

Street design determines what the city looks like. The way space, pavements and street furniture are distributed, together with a quality finish of the work, are all influential elements in urban living.

Each street may present different dimensions –which is a particularly relevant aspect, especially in terms of width– but also play different roles within the urban system. Streets may be intended for pedestrians only, for vehicle traffic, for regulated coexistence, but they may also become single platform or clearly segregated depending on the mobility priorities in force. Key urban services, such as public lighting, waste containers, recycling bins, street furniture, as well as landscape design should respond to concrete environmental needs.

tipos-de-calles
Panel-05-2_1600x1000px

Panel-05_EU30Traffic calming measures

All non-pedestrian streets have been or are currently being improved following the principles of traffic calming. Life-saving speed bumps and roundabouts are two of the most evident and efficacious obstacles to create safer and more welcoming spaces, but there are various other measures being implemented: reductions in traffic density, car lane narrowing and speed limits of 30 km/h throughout the city.

The spider’s web of motorized traffic

This is the shape that is obtained from a graphical representation of car density in city streets and squares. The illustration shows some of the main landmarks in 1997 and today, after the implementation and enforcement of traffic calming measures.

The figures of traffic calming

Historic Center and high street

Panel-05-bis_92

Inner ring of the city

Panel-05-bis_77

Citywide

Panel-05-bis_53
Panel-05-bis
Panel-05-bis-1

Panel-05-bis-2Where are the remaining cars?

There are now fewer cars entering the city, but it is still equally efficient and much more appealing than before. What happened to these cars then?

  1. Motorized vehicles coming from outside the city find ample parking areas in the outer ring (close to the sports pavilion, the exhibition center, Corvaceiras, Mollavao, A Parda, the string bridge, etc.) or any other free parking spaces. The attitude is: “park and then walk”.
  2. Other motorized vehicles that were also entering the city from the outside had no choice but to pass through. Recent improvements in infrastructure have made it possible to present drivers with plenty of alternative itineraries.
  3. Most cars whose origin and destination were within city bounds no longer start their engines. Back in 1997, up to 52,000 motorized vehicles inundated city streets. Today, “better on foot” policies have brought the numbers down to 17,000.

Road safety

The critical question that propelled urban transformation tried to determine the number of motorized vehicles that would be necessary for the city to keep functioning efficiently.

The result: very few. Non-essential cars should remain either in the parking areas located in the outer rings or in private garages.

Integrated bicycles

Some people wonder why bicycle lanes have not yet reached the city’s inner ring. The answer is quite straightforward: the implementation of traffic calming measures, such as a 30 km/h speed limit citywide or the installation of life-saving speed bumps, has suppressed the threat motorized vehicles represented for cyclists and now both modalities can coexist without direct supervision from the local authorities.
According to the stipulations of the mobility system currently in force, pedestrians are granted maximum priority; therefore, cyclists must dismount when the streets and squares are busy and motorized vehicles should be extremely careful with walkers and bikers.

“Mesa da Bici”, a participatory forum where local transport issues are periodically debated, gives users of the Pontevedra mobility network the opportunity to discuss the introduction of new measures to promote the use of bicycles rather than cars to cover relatively short distances.

Panel-06-1

Car free

The city has dramatically reduced the abusive presence of motorized vehicles, which had come to dominate the Historic Center, where more than 500 cars were parked for days on end, as well as the outer rings. The establishment of car free areas and the enforcement of new mobility priorities have boosted the local economy, particularly the services sector. The new mobility scheme has fostered the harmonious coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists and drivers throughout the city, placing open public spaces at the center of policy making.

Panel-06-2