I was in Vitoria Gasteiz in the Spanish Basque country in the late of May. It was the second meeting of the European biking project. Vitoria (in spanish language) or Gasteiz (in Basque language) got a population of 242 147 people in a city of 276 km² which gives a very dense city with 860 inhabitants per km².
With 7 % of the daily trips by bike in 2011 (1 % in 2002), Vitoria Gasteiz is the spanish city where bicycle is the most used. And with 55 % of walkers and 8 % of public transport customers, the Alava capital is one of the cities where cars are the less used (29 % of the daily trips). This is one of the reasons why Vitoria Gasteiz held the title of European Green Capital in 2012.
The car free area of the old part of the city started in 1976, and in 1993 reached up to 40 000 square meters and up to more than 20 streets. Some of the pedestrianized streets registered up to 25 000 vehicles. Nowadays the pedestrian zone reach up to 500 000 square meters.
The city started it’s cycling policy in the beginning of the 2000's. It built the first cycle tracks by taking space from cars, by calming traffic in residential areas with new traffic plan with one way car streets with two way for bicycle users as you can see in this before/after pictures
|Photos: Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council|
The improvement of the bike use in the city was also helped by the new tram lines inaugurated in 2008 which has completely redesign the streets from side to side in order to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.
Vitoria Gasteiz is the good exemple of a city which is quickly becoming "bike friendly". The city gave more space to cyclists and calmed motorised trafic in the city and communicated about it by working closer with the inhabitants. I was very impressed of the results of this 10 years policy which got very good results without a big and expensive public bike sharing system !. It just need to be supported by politicians a little bit of money and to be timeless. Congratulations to Vitoria-Gasteiz !