Vitoria-Gasteiz envisaged a new structure of mobility and urban space, in which city blocks built a network for different mobility modes.
In its sustainable mobility plan, Vitoria-Gasteiz proposed a superblock model that reserves the space inside a block for pedestrians and cyclists. Private cars and public transport run along the streets that border these blocks. Through this measure, Vitoria-Gasteiz wanted to plan the final design and implementation of a new mobility and urban space framework of 77 superblocks.
After the definition of the overall reference plan, the Sancho el Sabio superblock was the first one to be implemented as a demonstrative superblock, to put into practice the model and to get a better knowledge of the problems and solutions that may be found during the process. The changes were mainly based on the installation of the tram, as well as the priority given to pedestrian in the whole superblock area.
Afterwards, there was an important change in the philosophy of the superblock model. Due to the economic crisis context, the municipality adapted the plans to develop all the superblocks of the city centre without having to spend a great amount of money to make public works and big changes in the structure of streets. Some of those light measures were: signalling of slow-speed streets, so motorised vehicles should adapt their speed to pedestrians and cyclists; and installation of several elements in the pavement (flower boxes, etc.) helped reduce the car speed. 45 streets were modified following those criteria.
Costs were partially funded by the Spanish Government, as part of its effort to overcome the 2000s Great Recession.
Evidence of success
Several indicators were calculated to measure the effectiveness of the changes.
Comparing the values with the previous data showed that results were positive. There was a decrease of CO2, NOx and noise emissions. Car flows were reduced due to the reduction of lanes and the changing of street directions.
400 surveys were carried out by telephone. Acceptance levels for the measure were quite high at 7.43 out of 10.
In general, the model worked properly, reaching the targets and objectives set in the plan. However, there were some aspects that need further rethinking, mainly the type of solution used in the demonstrative superblock, that proved to be very expensive and not applicable in other superblocks.
Potential for learning or transfer
The approach taken in Vitoria-Gasteiz for this measure, based mainly on infrastructural modifications, has big funding needs. Therefore, results in the demonstrative superblock are transferable as long as plans with similar objectives in other cities are based on the same foundations of heavy infrastructural changes and powerful participation, communication
and promotion campaigns.
The extension of the measure to 17 more superblocks in the city centre with lighter (and cheaper) actions are more tranferable to other cities.
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