Spanish City Banned Cars 20 Years Ago, And Now It’s A Paradise

20 years ago they banned cars from the small city of Pontevedra in Spain. Wanting to reclaim the city’s public spaces, the mayor started an initiative to only allow cars in the outskirts of the city. Two decades later the residents love the changes, and the population has increased by 12,000.

When Miguel Lores became mayor of the small town of Pontevedra Spain, he had a singular goal in mind: to take back the city from traffic. He began a campaign of pedestrianizing public spaces, 300,000 square meters of them, and paving them with walker-friendly flagstones. Before the city center was vacant, full of drug dens and trash.

Now, thanks to the work Lores has done over the past two decades, the middle of Pontevedra is alive and vibrant again. The changes are dramatic. Between 1996 and 2006 30 people died in traffic accidents on one street alone. From 2006 to 2016, only 3 people died on that same stretch of highway. A dramatic decline in driver mortality.