Lisbon has become the latest European city to put a plan in place banning through-traffic. The Portuguese downtown capital has implemented the scheme on a temporary three-month basis for now, beginning on April 26th. Cars will be able to drive into the heart of the city but not through it, with a larger exclusion zone barring vehicles over 3.5 metric tones between 8am and 5pm. Only public transport will be exempt from the directive.
In place of their journey through the city centre, cars will instead be ushered onto a semi-circular road network resembling a ring road. The scheme is expected to significantly reduce the amount of traffic through the historic heart of the city, while not causing major disruption for those vehicles visiting with a purpose. Some trepidation and a significant amount of cloaking accompanied the decision, one that Lisbon Deputy Mayor for Mobility Anacoreta Correia stressed, “is dynamic, it does not have an end in sight and will change as the completion of the works progresses.”
It’s believed that the scheme will be recognised by even the most devoted of car owners who currently use the city on their journeys. Central Lisbon has some engineering and construction works scheduled for this summer that include two new metro stations, storm drains to aid in flooding along the city’s waterfront, sewerage repairs, and road resurfacing. Traffic passing through the city would only add to the disruption that is already expected.
Although deemed to be temporary, the three-month trial has ignited some discussion in the city, with many proposing that some of the directives remain permanent, in particular the ban on daytime heavy goods vehicles.
A number of Portuguese transit experts have concluded that the plan will aid the 2030 carbon neutrality target, implemented by Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas in his previous role as European Union Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. Lisbon is one of 122 cities that have made the climate pledge, and Paris and Amsterdam are already taking measures to bar inner city through-traffic. London’s congestion charge was a precursor for such changes that are commonly gaining support and shaping the future.