The barcelona traffic restrictions: does it affect my vehicle?

The barcelona traffic restrictions: does it affect my vehicle?

From December 1st, further restrictions will enter into force in the area between the Ronda Litoral and Ronda de Dalt ring roads. These will affect pollutant cars on days when there are high levels of atmospheric pollution: a phenomenon which unfortunately now occurs between one and three times each year, although the new regulation aspires to reduce the frequency.

Barcelona is the city with the highest density of vehicles in Europe: 6,000 per km2. Consequently, it is logical for it to be following in the footsteps of other big cities like Paris, London, Madrid, Beijing, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and New Delhi by introducing measures of this kind, particularly when these cities have set their sights on achieving a substantial drop in vehicle emissions by 2030 and even eliminating them altogether in order to enjoy the benefits of better air quality and thus an improved quality of life. With this preventive measure, a big reduction is expected to be achieved in the healthcare costs of treating illnesses and complications caused or aggravated by atmospheric pollution.

Let’s look at the figure. 68% of Barcelona’s population is exposed to higher NO2 levels than the recommended limit, while 95% of the population is exposed to higher ppm of pollutants than the recommended WHO threshold. 659 people die each year as a result of complications due to pollution in Barcelona alone.

To ensure cleaner air and better health, different traffic restrictions will gradually be enforced in four stages until seven years’ hence, in 2025, – the average time it takes to pay off a new car –, only vehicles with the Traffic Department’s environmental label will be able to travel with no restrictions in the municipalities within the scope of the Barcelona Metropolitan Public Administration (AMB).

Stage 1 of the restrictions: from December 1st 2017

During this first stage, the restrictions will only be enforced during officially declared episodes of atmospheric pollution.

These restrictions will be applied to two areas: Zone 40 and the Low Emissions Zone (known locally as Àmbit 40 and ZBE respectively), each with different restrictions.

Zone 40 is made up of the whole municipalities of Badalona, Badia del Vallès, Barberà del Vallès, Barcelona, Castellbisbal, Castelldefels, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Cornellà de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat, Gavà, Granollers, l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, la Llagosta, Martorell, Martorelles, Molins de Rei, Mollet del Vallès, Montcada i Reixac, Montmeló, Montornès del Vallès, Pallejà, el Papiol, Parets del Vallès, el Prat de Llobregat, Ripollet, Rubí, Sabadell, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Sant Andreu de la Barca, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Fost de Campsentelles, Sant Joan Despí, Sant Just Desvern, Sant Quirze del Vallès, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, Terrassa and Viladecans.

During this initial phase of the restrictions, when there are episodes of atmospheric pollution, the following vehicles will not be allowed on the roads of Zone 40 municipalities:

  • Cars prior to Euro 1 (registered prior to 1997).
  • Vans prior to Euro 1 (registered prior to 1994).
  • The Low Emissions Zone (ZBE) is an area between the Ronda de Dalt and Ronda Litoral ring roads, encompassing a large part of Barcelona and L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and the areas of Cornellà del Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat and Sant Adrià del Besós on the fringes of aforementioned roads. The industrial duty-free zone, Vallvidrera, Tibidabo and Les Planes are all excluded from the ZBE.

    During this first stage, the restrictions will be applied during episodes of atmospheric pollution but only from Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Friday is still pending a decision) for these vehicles:

  • Cars not holding a Traffic Department environmental label (petrol-driven cars registered prior to the year 2000 and diesel-operated ones registered prior to 2006).
  • Vans prior to Euro 1 (registered prior to 1994).
  • Vehicles for people with reduced mobility or belonging to the emergency services (the police, fire brigade and ambulance service) and essential services (medical and funeral services) are all permanently exempted.

    In 2017, motorcycles, lorries, coaches, buses and Euro 1, Euro 2 and Euro 3 vans will be exempted.

    These restrictions will be announced in advance through all possible public channels: the media, panels on roads, on the social networks and wherever necessary. During the episode of atmospheric pollution, all available public transport will be activated, together with a new reduced fare for returns journey on public transport.

    Second stage of the restrictions: from January 1st 2019

    Permanent restrictions on all working days throughout Zone 40 will apply to:

  • Euro 1 cars and previous ones (registered prior to 1997)
  • Vans prior to Euro 1 (registered prior to 1994)
  • Third stage of the restrictions: from January 1st 2020

    Permanent restrictions on all working days from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the ZBE will apply to:

  • Vehicles of all kinds without the Traffic Department’s environmental label (petrol-driven vehicles registered prior to 2000 and diesel-powered ones registered prior to 2006).
  • Fourth stage of the restrictions: from January 1st 2025

    Permanent restrictions in all municipalities in Greater Barcelona will apply to:

  • Vehicles of all kinds without the Traffic Department’s environmental label
  • I have a vehicle without an environmental label. What should I do?

    If you still do not have an environmental label from the Traffic Department, check whether you are eligible for one by clicking on this link: If your car is eligible and you have not been sent the label, you will have to request one either online or at one of the Traffic Department’s offices. It is important to add that drivers will not be penalized for failing to bear the sticker on their vehicle, but that the authorities will be entitled to stop vehicles without one to check, through their vehicle registration number, whether they are entitled to be on the roads at that time. If they are not, the driver will be fined 100 euros (a minor fine without the loss of any points) and they will be invited not to drive into the city.

    According to data by the Barcelona Metropolitan Public Administration (AMB), in practice, the new restrictions will affect some 112,000 vehicles currently on the roads in Barcelona, equivalent to 14% of the total vehicles there.

    If you have a company with a fleet of vans or cars that do not meet these requirements, Catalonia Regional Government, Barcelona City Council and the AMB offer a series of subsidies to help you renew your fleet of vehicles, in addition to various tax incentives in exchange for owning a sustainable vehicle. At LIVE, we can also offer you guidance on replacing your fleet with eco-friendly models or on getting subsidies for the purchase of a sustainable vehicle so that you can travel anywhere in Barcelona without problems.

    In fact, at LIVE, we are working on the development of projects to replace private companies’ fleets with more sustainable vehicles powered by electricity and natural gas as a positive energy-saving and financial solution for them and as a way of improving the quality of air and people’s quality of life.
    Meanwhile, if you take your pollutant vehicle to a scrapyard, you will be given a Green Metropolitan Card, entitling you to three years’ free travel on public transport, providing that you do not buy another vehicle while you have the card.

    Another of the projects that is currently underway is the promotion and creation of a Park&Ride scheme (that is, carparks in railway stations on commuter lines into the said areas) and the construction of new HOV lanes into and out of the city.

    As for internal mobility, Barcelona is striving to increase the number of bike lanes throughout the city and to improve the routes. In 2018, the new L10sud underground line should also start operating. As for those on foot, more superilles (large building blocks where priority is given to pedestrian areas) are planned, entailing more car-free streets, improved air quality and a better quality of life for Barcelona’s residents.

    Barcelona has signed a declaration of intent within the framework of the C40 group, to which it belongs together with Paris, Copenhagen, London, Vancouver and Mexico City, among other, to make Barcelona an emission-free city by 2030.

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