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Barcelona Cleans Up the Streets By Banning Old Cars

Picture of Tara Jessop
Updated: 22 March 2017
In an effort to cut C02 emissions and improve air quality conditions in the Catalan capital, the local government is introducing a ban on old vehicles . From 2019, any vehicle over 20 years old will be forbidden from entering Barcelona and 39 other surrounding municipalities.

The measure, which was announced earlier this month, will take effect from the 1st of January 2019 and will make it illegal for any cars registered before January 1997, and any vans registered before October 1994, to enter the city. As well as Barcelona, 39 other municipalities will also enforce the ban, which is designed to combat the growing problem of air pollution. The ban is expected to affect some 106,000 cars and 22,000 trucks, or a combined total of about 23% of traffic in the area.

Cars entering the city at Plaça d'Espanya © Charlie Dave
Cars entering the city at Plaça d’Espanya | © Charlie Dave

Ahead of the ban’s full introduction, as of December 2017 the concerned vehicles will be forbidden from entering Barcelona during peak traffic times. Diesel vehicles registered before 2006 and petrol cars registered before 2000 will also be forbidden from circulating within the centre of the city, and are likely to be included in the forthcoming ban from 2020.

The Aerobus goes from Plaça Catalaunya to the airport © (Mick Baker)rooster
The Aerobus goes from Plaça Catalaunya to the airport | © (Mick Baker)rooster

In exchange, the local council will offer three years of public transport to car owners who are willing to trade in their old vehicles and abstain from buying a new one during that three year period. The council is also building new parking areas with links to public transport on the periphery of the city, and better connections with the airport and train stations.

Traffic on Barcelona's ring road © Jorge Franganillo
Traffic on Barcelona’s ring road | © Jorge Franganillo

This latest attempt by a major city to reduce its C02 emissions comes after similar commitments from cities such as Paris, Athens and Mexico City. Speaking for the local authorities, the city’s deputy mayor for the environment said this latest move was, ‘a step forward from everything that had been done so far. We have some catching up to do but we still have time to resolve the situation’.