Vitoria-Gasteiz’s Success Story of Increasing Cycling Modal Share
Every effort has it's rewards. A city of about 250.000 inhabitants achieves surprisingly positive numbers promoting the use of the bicycle as daily means of transport.
The small city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital of the Basque Autonomous Community in northern Spain has reasons to be congratulated. Nowadays almost every city needs to rethink its traffic-policy. Especially countries like Spain, which are not inside the established cycling nations. This change in traffic-policy is necessary not only to create an eco-friendly city, but to achieve an improvement in the mobility and lifestyle of urban citizens. Vitoria-Gasteiz shows the world that it is possible to create a sustainable livable city climate from bottom up.
Highest Cycling Modal Share in Spain
In a total of eight years, Vitoria-Gasteiz has been able to increase their cycling share up to 12.3%. An exciting record for Spain, one which hopefully will motivate other cities to follow the lead of their neighbor autonomous community. Some other Spanish cites have already driven reforms regarding bike use, like the city of Seville, where the cycling modal share increased from 0.5 to 7% between 2006 and 2013. From all Spanish cities Seville is the only one that gets close to Vitoria’s numbers.
Last year’s Vitoria-Gasteiz Mobility Survey showed surprising results, as it can be seen in the graphic. In 2006 only 3.30% of people were using their bikes on a daily basis. In only eight years (until 2014) the cycling modal share increased for about 10%. Taking into account that changing the habits of people is a big challenge, what is been achieved is remarkable.
Another important detail is that the pedestrian modal share has maintained during the years, what means that the use of cars and motorbikes had decreased in the last eight years. A great victory for the pocket and health of the citizens of Vitoria-Gasteiz, creating livable benefits for the people and luckily this will not stop here.
Past and Future of Vitoria-Gasteiz
The city has set the ambitious goal of 15% of cycling mode share by 2020, and looks like they will accomplish it. The cycling modal share divided in age segments shows that 35% of the population that cycles is between 6-19 years old. This means that this group in the near future will keep riding the bike. As well as new people after them will follow in their footsteps, helping to make Viktoria-Gasteiz an example for other cities.
Vitoria-Gasteiz has a compact city structure which has helped to increase the use of bikes. However every positive achievement carries a big effort with it, and nobody can doubt about Vitoria’s excellent achievements. No other city has been able to manage similar results in such a short term.
The conclusion of MEP Michael Cramer from the Chair of the European Parliament Transport and Tourism committee is that “a dedicated administration and a participative approach can quickly considerably increase the share of cyclist”. Vitoria has always been committed towards sustainable mobility. In this sense in 2012 the city was awarded with the title of European Green Capital, and last year their effort made them be part of the European Biking Cities project along with other five European cities.
Vitoria has made an important step forward to sustainable mobility. Let’s hope many other cities will follow their example.
Image © Despedidavitoria