05What are other cities doing around the world?

Case study Paris: Restricting vehicle access into the city centre

Paris uses a sticker system assigned to vehicles to restrict vehicle access into the city centre and therefore reduce emissions.

Crit’Air is a six category sticker system that applies to all motor vehicles in the most polluted areas in France to identify what emissions they produce. The six categories have different colours that denote how heavily polluting the vehicle is according to its Euro emissions standards, ranging from the most polluting vehicles to the least.Paris is operating a permanent scheme which has already excluded vehicles of category 5 from daily traffic. This means that during the working week, only vehicles of categories 1 to 4 can enter central zones of the city. In response to high levels of pollution on a given day, vehicles can be refused entrance to an area based on their Crit’Air sticker. During these periods, the city makes public transport free to encourage people to leave their vehicles at home.

Airparif, the observatory in charge of monitoring air quality estimated that the scheme would result in a 16 per cent reduction of NOx emissions.

Case study New York City: Reducing idling

To reduce unnecessary emissions from idling vehicles parking or stopping, New-York City introduced an anti-idling law in 2009.

Inside areas where the law operates, no one should allow the engine of their motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, waiting or stopping. This is even stricter around schools, where the time allowed is just one minute. The anti-idling fines range from $100 to $2000. Anyone can report an idling vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle.

Case study Freiburg: Encouraging the use of public transport by restricting car ownership

Freiburg’s long term strategy has tackled emissions by reducing car ownership in certain parts of
the city.

The city has discouraged car ownership through a range of policies such as forcing cars to be parked in the outskirts, improving public transport and introducing a convenient car sharing system. For example, for large parts of the residential area, the development plan for the suburb of Vauban prohibits the building of parking space on private property. Instead, private cars are parked in a community car park located at the periphery of the residential area, where parking spaces are worth €18,000. In return, the city offers cheaper housing, a reduced price for a public transport monthly ticket and bicycle spaces.

Over the last three decades, the number of bicycle trips has tripled, public transport ridership doubled and the share of trips by automobile declined from 38 per cent to 32 per cent.
In 2002, 39 per cent of Vauban households were registered with a car sharing organisation. Over the years, Freiburg has therefore managed to make it more expensive to drive and more convenient and cheaper to take public transport.

Case study Copenhagen: Investing in infrastructure to make cycling easier, faster and safer

The city has set the explicit aim of becoming the world’s best cycling city and measures to make cycling easier, faster and safer feature heavily in the local policy agenda.
In Copenhagen, urban planning policies have been designed to reduce the need for private car usage and to promote cycling in the long term. For example, commercial buildings are required to have 0.5 bicycle spaces per employee, and residential developments should have 2.5 bike parking spaces per 100 square metres. The city is also currently building cycling superhighways to reach the suburbs. There are over 469 kilometres of cycle paths and a large part of the city centre is closed to motor vehicles. To support investment in cycling infrastructure, Copenhagen also discourages private car use through a tax increase of up to 150 per cent on new car sales. The tax is discounted for low consumption vehicles to encourage for the purchase of smaller and more efficient cars.

As a result, cycling is the preferred mode of transport in Copenhagen where 41 per cent of all trips by workers and students to and from Copenhagen are made by bike, and 62 per cent of all Copenhageners commute to work and study by bike.

Case study Los Angeles: Reducing congestion by introducing a demand-based parking system

Los Angeles is tackling the problem of cars driving around looking for somewhere to park, therefore producing unnecessary congestion and pollution, by introducing a demand-based parking system that adjusts prices based on real time occupancy data.

The L.A. Express Park system was launched in 2012 and uses sensors to monitor where spaces are full or empty. Drivers can access the data easily on their phone in real time to see which spots are free. The city introduced a dynamic pricing system that raises parking fees in spots where demand is high and cuts them where demand is lower. The smart system came into force with a rise in the number of parking meters from 5,000 to 8,000.

Since the implementation of the Express Park, the average occupancy of parking spaces has increased by more than 15 per cent. After the introduction of the scheme, studies found that city traffic from drivers looking for parking space has fell by as much as 30 per cent.

Case study Milan: Introducing a congestion charge to restrict access to the city centre

Milan is one of five cities around the world to have introduced a congestion charge in its central ‘Area C’. This was introduced in January 2012, initially as a pilot programme with objectives to tackle congestion, reduce pollutant emissions and encourage alternative methods of transport.

The €5 charge was implemented in March 2013 from 7.30am to 7.30pm. From 16 October 2017, vehicles entering this area must satisfy a minimum emissions standard, and diesel vehicles must have a particulate filter. Electric vehicles get free access to the zone, and hybrid electric vehicles are exempt from charge until October 2019. The charge offers a significant additional source of income for the city and all net earnings are invested in policies to promote sustainable mobility and to reduce air pollution.

The introduction of a congestion charge in Milan has coincided with falling traffic congestion in the city. In the first six months of 2015, the average number of cars entering the restricted area was 28.6 per cent lower than in the same period in 2011. Most drivers entering the area only entered few times a year. A study estimated that the air pollution reductions resulting from the introduction of Area C translated into an overall net benefit equivalent to $3 billion.

Case study Barcelona: Changing the flow of traffic

Barcelona is aiming to reduce emissions by changing the flow of traffic to allow more cycling and promote pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods.

Barcelona’s urban mobility plan explores solutions to solve the issues of air pollution and congestion in the city. The strategy focuses on the idea of ‘superblocks’, a small neighbourhood created on a local grid around which traffic will flow. In the strategy, higher speed traffic and public transport are confined to the outer roads around the ‘block’, so that the streets inside the block are dedicated to pedestrian and cycling public space. By removing space for vehicles inside the blocks and increasing space for alternatives, the city hopes to create incentives for people to switch from using cars to walking and cycling in their neighbourhoods.

Barcelona estimates that its urban mobility plan will reduce traffic by 21 per cent in the next two years5.




  • 5 Source: BCN Ecologia: Agencia d’Ecologia Urbana de Barcelona, http://www.bcnecologia.net/en/conceptual-model/superblocks