New measures against pollution to be implemented in Barcelona on Friday
Traffic to be restricted in the city and surrounding metropolitan area on days of high contamination
In a bid to cut down on traffic emissions, Barcelona is to introduce new measures on December 1 restricting traffic, specifically that of older modelled cars, on days of high pollution.
When nitrogen dioxide reaches unhealthy levels and weather conditions look set to remain unchanged, the Catalan government will give 48 hours notice before the traffic restrictions are applied, affecting the whole Barcelona metropolitan area. Once 24 hours have passed, the situation will be re-evaluated.
The idea is to get people to use public transport or bicycles over their own private transport when increased atmospheric contamination is detected, with the aim of reducing emissions by 18% on days of low air quality. A new web page will keep citizens informed on a daily basis.
This new measure has been agreed upon by Barcelona City Council, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona, the government, and other municipalities within the low emissions zones such as the neighbouring Hospitalet de Llobregat.
Increased public transport will be coordinated on days when vehicle circulation is to be limited. At peak hours, for example, the metro will run with a greater frequency, and additional bus services will also operate, including buses to major commuter towns.
The general director of the government’s department of Environmental Quality and Climate Change, Mercè Rius, has specified that the problem in Barcelona is “more structural than timely” stating that changes will gradually be integrated.
Administrations involved recall that these measures will eventually become permanent, with certain types of vehicles being banned outright, depending on their emissions standard. From January 1 2019, for example, it will no longer be possible to drive models manufactured in 1992 and before.
According to Barcelona City Council, millions of motor-vehicle journeys take place in the city every day. It estimates that over 60% of nitrogen dioxide pollution, the most dangerous contaminant in the city’s atmosphere, is caused by this traffic, thus stating that the most effective way to reduce this, is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
A study by one of the main hospitals in Barcelona, has revealed that air pollution causes an increase in heart attacks.
The Vall d'Hebron Hospital analysed data for patients who suffered a heart attack between January 2010 and December 2011, and data from the government's meteorological and pollution records , also finding that pollution levels can affect the mortality rate within the first 24 hours after a major cardiac arrest.