Seville’s lesson to world: how to become bike friendly
Zach is attending the Velo-City Conference in Seville, Spain. The annual, international conference brings together thousands of experts who share their experiences about bicycling as a means of urban transportation.
Seville has drawn worldwide attention for its rapid growth as a bicycle friendly city. While PFB is focused on making the U.S. more bike friendly, many of the best and most inspiring examples come from abroad. Here are a few of Zach’s first impressions:
I'm visiting Seville, Spain, where bicycling has grown from an almost non-existent type of transportation (0.4% mode share) to a significant one (7%, about the same as Portland or parts of San Francisco) in five years. The key factors? A rapid buildout of a comprehensive infrastructure network and the implementation of a bike-sharing program. Bicycling has completely revitalized Seville’s central city. It’s an inspiring story for U.S. areas that are just beginning to work on their bicycling networks about how quickly results can be realized with focused investment.
Here are some the details about Seville’s transformation:
- Seville added 100 miles of new bike infrastructure in 36 months between 2007 and 2009.
- 85% of the space came from removal of car parking and travel lanes; 15% came from pedestrian space (which was compensated for by major, new additions to public space in other places).
- The improvements increased the number of trips taken by bicycle from 0.4% to ~ 7%.
- In 2005, a major public plaza was redesigned to be more accessible to bikes and pedestrians:
- removed 200 parking spaces
- held 100 public meetings, initial opposition to the plan was fierce from retailer organization and neighbors; now, 22% of customers arrive by bike and several new businesses have opened; retailers along the plaza are thriving.
- incorporated a major stormwater management system into the design
- In 2006, Seville re-engineered a major four lane arterial road to be a shared plaza with streetcar, bike and pedestrian space. Initially opposed, the conversion is now very popular. “This defeats the myth that European streets have ‘always been this way.’ This amazing place is only five years old!” — Gil Peñalosa, Director of 8-80 Cities and Conference MC.
- City Council passed a law that limits auto access in the central city to residents only; the law reduced the daily number of cars in downtown from 25,000 to 10,000.
- “Great is the enemy of good.” The city’s infrastructure emphasizes network connectivity, not perfection. It’s far from the polished bikeways of Northern Europe, but the protected bikeways of Seville are safe, convenient and get you where you need to go without interruption.
- “This used to be a dangerous street for bicyclists and pedestrians. Now the biggest threat is getting hit by a falling orange.” Gil Peñalosa — on a redesigned street with protected bike lanes along a row of orange trees.