Euronews has just published an article in all its languages (English; French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, etc.) by Ricardo Elorza explaining the City of Bilbao’s initiative to lower the speed limit on all its streets to 30 km/h (20 mph).

This is a pioneering measure in cities with a population over 300,000 which, according to city sources, has already shown improving data in regards to air pollution, noise pollution, and accidents.  And it joins the already well-set policy to pedestrianize the city and “return” urban spaces to people.

As is to be expected, this measure has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among people who work in their cars or who regularly use to roads in Bilbao.  For them, this limit is excessive, especially on some roads where it makes no sense.  For others, it’s acceptable, but there are too many drivers who disregard it, including public transport operators, thereby canceling out a good deal of the advantages this measure could bring to the city’s quality of life.

For the authorities in Europe, this speed limit has been one of the biggest reasons Bilbao was granted the 2020 European Urban Road Safety Award, which the European Commission hands out every year as part of the European Mobility Week, taking place this week (Sept. 16-22).

As usual, when these matters are being discussed outside our country, we notice the lack of the reference to the Basque Country, especially when giving Bilbao its proper context.  This is also because of how many of the key elements that have allowed the Bilbao metro area to change, which are key to winning this award, are the consequence of the joint hard work and coordination of several Basque institutions, just like the subway, which was a joint project of the Basque Autonomous Community as a whole, and which was financed by the Biscay Government and the Basque Government.

Euronews – 13/9/2021 – Europe

Bilbao hits the brakes to slow down pollution


Bilbao and its metropolitan area have undergone a profound transformation in the last 30 years. The city is shaking off its industrial past and reducing pollution.

In addition to pedestrianising the entire old town and numerous downtown streets full of shops, the local authorities opted for the creation of an increasingly sustainable public transport system, which includes trams, subways as well as hybrid and electric urban buses. They’ve also created a wide network of cycle lanes and rental bikes to easily move around the city.

(Follow) (Spanish) (Automatic translation (though officially translated into 16 languages))

European Mobility Week – 2021 – Europe

Urban Road Safety Award: Bilbao

Bilbao has sought to improve road safety in the city by reducing the speed limit to 30km/h. Speed limits were first reduced in June 2018 on 87% of all roads in the city. In September 2020, Bilbao extended the 30km/h speed limit to cover the entire city. The jury was also impressed by Bilbao’s communication and awareness-raising activities to promote road safety, and its steps to include residents in discussions and decision-making.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)