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How this Catalan town has managed to not have a single road death in 11 years

The town of Mollet del Vallès - population 51,000 - hasn’t had anybody die on its roads since 2007. Here’s how they did it.

How this Catalan town has managed to not have a single road death in 11 years
Photo: Mollet Socialistes

Just a half an hour’s drive from Barcelona tucked away in the Besòs valley of eastern Catalonia is the town of Mollet, as its residents usually call it. 

In its more than 1,000 years of history, its only real claim to ‘fame’ was that it hosted the 1992 Barcelona Olympics shooting competition.

That’s until now, as Mollet has just been awarded the first Zero City Educational Prize for not having recorded a single road death in the past 11 years.

The accolade, awarded by the International Association of Road Safety Professionals (AIPSEV) as part of the European Mobility Week initiative, went specifically to Mollet’s police force and town council.

So how exactly does Mollet prevent traffic accidents so effectively when in neighbouring Barcelona 25 people died on the roads just this summer?

“It’s not down to chance or one road safety campaign in particular,” Mollet Mayor Josep Monràs told El País.

“For years we’ve had a road education class in schools as well as an awareness campaign for young adults, and even another aimed at older people.

Every year more than 3,000 children are taught road education measures in a local park, with Monràs estimating that almost all of Mollet’s residents under the age of 40 have received some form of traffic tuition by local police.

Photo: Rafael Ferran/Wikimedia

In addition to this, officers carry out road checks regularly as well as mapping and analysing each and every one of the places where road accidents have taken place in Mollet. 

“If we spot a problem we immediately intervene; we’ll add a traffic light, remove a plant stand,” Monràs explains.

Despite its relatively small size, Mollet also has an above average number of security cameras watching over its streets, making it next to impossible for speeding drivers to get away with it.

“We usually send a photo to the drivers with their speeding tickets, giving them no chance of being able to dispute the claim,” local chief inspector Francisco Muñoz added. 

Mollet’s 71 police officers also carried out more breathalyser tests on drivers during last year’s Carnival period than any other Catalan municipality other than the far bigger cities of Barcelona and Girona.

Does that mean there are never any road accidents in Mollet? Far from it.

In 2018 there were 365 traffic accidents in which 79 people were injured, four of them seriously.

But nobody died, Muñoz clarifying that 35 percent of the incidents took place whilst drivers were parking.

Photo: JT Curses

Even though there have been fatal road accidents on the highways that surround Mollet, none have occurred within the 10 square kilometre perimeter of this town of 51,000 inhabitants.

“I’m convinced that in order to have safer cities, we can’t just focus on fines but also on awareness and prevention,” Monràs concludes.

“However, we must review Spain’s penal code and hand out much stronger punishments than we currently give to crimes against traffic safety.”
 

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TRANSPORT

How Barcelona residents are scrapping their cars for a free public transport card

More than 5,700 Barcelona residents have taken their vehicles to the scrapyard in return for a three-year free public transport card for the Catalan capital. Here's how to do it.

How Barcelona residents are scrapping their cars for a free public transport card
Photos: Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB), AFP

As of January 1st 2020, the most polluting vehicles in Barcelona and some municipalities on the outskirts of the capital will no longer have access to the city’s roads. 

That’s unless their drivers want to cough up fines of anywhere between €200 and €1,800 for driving around on week days between 7am and 8pm.

According to Barcelona’s transport authority ATM (Autoritat Metropolitana del Transport), the implementation of this low emission zone in the Catalan capital will mean 50,000 of the city’s most polluting cars and motorbikes are left parked at home.

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It’s a drastic measure and one that lawmakers have known for some time wouldn’t sit well with commuters who were being asked to ditch their cars without any financial compensation. 

Therefore, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau decided in 2017 she would offer a three-year long free travel card called the T-verde to affected drivers who actually handed over their car to be dismantled at the scrapyard.

The card gives holders free access to Barcelona’s subway, TMB and intercity buses, the tram, Cercanías trains and the rest of public transport services available in zone 1 for a total of three years.

The T-verde (T-verda in Catalan) can be registered in another family member’s name, as long as they don’t own a private vehicle themselves. Applicants have to be Barcelona residents.

Another condition is that cardholders aren’t allowed to buy a new car during that three-year period unless they want to lose their free public transport rights. 

Barcelona authorities are offering the environmentally friendly exchange to owners of diesel vehicles that were manufactured before 2006, petrol cars from before 1997 and motorbikes with a registration plate from before July 2004.

Since October 2017 some 5,700 T-verde cards have been granted to Barcelona residents that have gone green, with an average of 240 vehicles being taken to the scrapyard every month.

City authorities are satisfied with the apparent success of the campaign but local environmental groups such as Ecologistas en Acción have called the figure “insignificant” so far, stating that an extra 50,000 vehicles have been registered in Barcelona since the T-verde measure was introduced.

READ MORE:

Superblocks – How Barcelona's car-free zones could extend lives and boost mental health

“We might be talking about people who didn’t even use their cars in the first place and who have simply done the maths and seen how the T-verde card was just a win-win for them,” spokeperson María García told Spanish daily El Diario.

Daniel Pi, technical coordinator of a Barcelona association promoting public transport in Barcelona, has pointed out that the T-verde card “isn’t the central measure” of a campaign aimed at curbing traffic pollution in the city, but rather “a nudge to get some people to take action” and ditch vehicles that are between 38 and 58 times more polluting than current models.

Barcelona’s ambitious ZBE (Zona de Bajas Emisiones) no-traffic zone is 20 times larger than the highly-debated Madrid Central catchment area, and more on a par with other car delimitation zones in place in London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
 

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