Madrid has joined a number of other European cities in freeing its busiest street from cars. The mayor of the Spanish city, Manuela Carmena, is planning to allow only bikes, buses and public transportation along one of the busiest streets in the city: Gran Via.

The street will receive major alterations this year, including the replacement of some car lanes with sidewalks. According to the mayor, the plan will be fully implemented by the end of her term in May 2019. This initiative reflects the government’s interest in redesigning streets to be more pedestrian-friendly. Last year, the city temporarily banned cars from 9 streets to combat air pollution, but the plan for Gran Via will be a more permanent solution to reduce congestion.

Gran Via Street in Madrid

Gran Via (Courtesy of Born to Vacation)

Appropriating Madrid’s initiative, Oslo, Norway decided to implement a two-day ban on diesel cars to combat air pollution. Those violating the ban will be fined 1500 kroner , around £174 or $177. Other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are seeking to make their cars emissions-free or ban the sale of fossil-fuel-powered cars altogether.

In his latest film, “The Future of Cities,” Oscar Boyson highlights how car-packed highways will no longer be viewed as the only infrastructure solution for mobility in the city. Boyson also states that removing cars from streets and making public transportation available to all can be socially beneficial.

“When walking, cycling and public transportation are the fastest ways to move, nobody feels like a second-class citizen for not owning a car,” Boyson said, pointing out that commute time is an indicator of poverty.