Residents of This City Say Life Is Sweet Since the Mayor Banned Cars


In the Spanish city of Pontevedra there are no revving engines or honking horns, no metallic snarl of motorbikes, no roar of people trying to make themselves heard above the street noise. That’s because in 1999 Mayor Miguel Fern├índez Lores banned all but the most essential traffic. Prior to the passage of the new law, an average of 14,000 cars passed along the street in front of the mayor's office. In fact, more cars passed through the city in a day than there were people living there. The historical center was dead, there was a lot of drugs, the streets were filled with traffic, and traffic accidents were commonplace. Today, the noisy sounds of traffic have been replaced with the tinkle of coffee spoons, the sound of human voices, and the tweeting of birds. CO2 emissions are down 70%, traffic accidents dropped from 30 a year to 3, and Pontevedra has gained 12,000 new residents. Now, you can cross the entire city on foot in just 25 minutes. Surprisingly, though there were some opponents to the new law, most residents adjusted very well and now see the benefits of the absence of vehicles.

Pontevedra prior to the banning of vehicles