Parking and Seville’s network of segregated bicycle lanes

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Brief summary of this reform

Seville quickly built a large network of protected bicycle tracks (or segregated bicycle lanes) despite the fact that this involved repurposing large numbers of on-street parking spaces.

In most cases the new bicycle tracks were built on space taken from what had been the parking lane on one side of the road. Most commonly the parking lane was actually moved over and replaced a traffic lane. Nevertheless, the bicycle network required repurposing almost 5,000 on-street car parking spaces.

Why should you care?

The key question for parking reformers is how was such an ambitious bicycle network expansion possible despite significant levels of parking removal?

The decision to proceed very quickly with a large network seems to have been important. The approach to public input was also a key. There was still much consultation and it resulted in design changes in various areas. However, the question in consultations was never WHETHER the bike network would go ahead. The question was always HOW exactly bike lanes would be added to the streets. Blocking bike tracks from being built was not an option on the table.

It is also possible that relatively effective parking management in high-demand areas may also have helped defuse parking-related opposition. But this is speculative and I would like to learn more.

Country

Spain

Vehicle type

cars

State/province

Andalusia

Key actor type

Local government

Jurisdiction

Ayuntamiento de Sevilla

Primary motivation

mode shift or TDM

Agencies involved

Interestingly, the key agency was the Urban Planning Office of the City Council of Seville, NOT the transport department.

Is it a model or a warning?

useful model

Reform type

Main parking category

Main parking paradigm shift

bans or removal or repurposing

On-street (many contexts)

Unknown or unclear or not applicable or other

Adaptive Parking thrust

Implementation status

Year adopted

On: On-street design and control and enforcement

implemented

2007

Goals of the reform

Quickly build a large and connected network of segregated bicycle lanes to make it possible for large numbers of people who didn’t already cycle, to take up the use of bicycles.

Impetus (what problem, campaign, opportunity or event prompted action?)

Traffic problems had been mounting in the economic boom period of the early 2000s. A new left/green alliance in the city council resulted in an administration that supported bicycle infrastructure expansion at a time when the municipal budget was healthy.

Detailed description of the reform

Seville quickly built a large network of protected bicycle tracks (or segregated bicycle lanes) despite the fact that this involved repurposing large numbers of on-street parking spaces.

In most cases the new bicycle tracks were built on space taken from what had been the parking lane on one side of the road. However, most commonly the parking lane was actually moved over and replaced a traffic lane. Nevertheless, the bicycle network created in the years 2007 to 2009 required repurposing almost 5,000 on-street car parking spaces. This was controversial of course.

How was such an ambitious bicycle network expansion possible despite these levels of parking removal?

Manuel Calvo was a key consultant behind the bike network plans in the ‘Plan de la Bicicleta de Sevilla’ and oversaw implementation. In speaking engagements and interviews he has suggested a number of reasons why this was politically possible. See for example, https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/05/07/six-secrets-from-the-planner-of-sevillas-lightning-bike-network/

The politicians in charge of the city acted in response to opinion polls that showed bicycle infrastructure to have very high levels of support. They decided to act, they wanted to do so quickly, and they wanted the network to be yielding real results before the next municipal elections. The 80 km ‘minimum network’ was completed in 18 months or so.

This determination influenced the approach to public input. There was still a great deal of consultation, which resulted in design changes in various areas. However, as Calvo has explained, the question in such consultations was never WHETHER the bike network would go ahead. The question was always HOW exactly bike lanes would be added to the streets. Blocking bike tracks from being built was not an option on the table.

Opposition was also said to be muted in the planning stage because many people assumed the ambitious plans would not really proceed, as had been the case with previous ambitious bicycle plans in Spain (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/28/seville-cycling-capital-southern-europe-bike-lanes).

However, opposition was vocal once construction began. According to the Metropolis Case Study: “The external resistance was discussed in the media on a daily basis. Pedestrians were irritated by having to share space and drivers felt that the distribution of space was incorrect. When relocating or removing car parking spaces, initial opposition was severe. Local businesses wondered if customers would still come on their bike instead of with their cars.”

Did effective on-street parking management also play a role in making parking repurposing a little more palatable? In theory, effective on-street parking management should help.

Seville does have areas with strong on-street parking management. However, these areas are relatively limited. There is priced on-street parking only in high-demand areas. These parking management zones are of three types: Very High Turnover Zones (Zona MAR - muy alta rotación), Blue Zones (high turnover desired) and Green Zones (lower turnover is acceptable), with time-limits and prices varying as you would expect.

There are also priced public off-street parking (often underground) in dense old areas outside the medieval old city, especially along the ring road around the old city and other strategic locations.

However, many streets even in the central area are beyond these parking management zones and have uncontrolled parking.

My guess is that the existence of a system for managing on-street parking and the existence of public parking in various places may possibly have helped ease the politics of parking repurposing a little. But I would like to learn more about this aspect of the story.

Results or impacts

I have no information on the parking impacts of the parking space repurposing in this case. The lack of easily-found information perhaps suggests that serious problems did not result from the loss of parking spaces.

The bicycle network itself is widely seen as an enormous success (and is now facing problems of success, such as overburdened bicycle lanes that are now considered too narrow).

Bicycle use in Seville increased from roughly 0.2% of trips to around 7% (Metropolis Case Study).

Sources and acknowledgements

Michael Andersen (7 May, 2018) Six Secrets From the Planner of Sevilla’s Lightning Bike Network, StreetsBlog USA, https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/05/07/six-secrets-from-the-planner-of-sevillas-lightning-bike-network/

Peter Walker (28 Jan 2015) How Seville transformed itself into the cycling capital of southern Europe, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/jan/28/seville-cycling-capital-southern-europe-bike-lanes

V. Hernández-Herrador, M. Calvo-Salazar and J.A. García-Cebrián (2015) How infrastructure can promote cycling in cities: Lessons from Seville, Research in Transportation Economics, 53, 31-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.retrec.2015.10.017

Metropolis Case Study: Cycle-Lane Network Seville, https://use.metropolis.org/case-studies/cycle-lane-network-seville

Streetfilms (1 July, 2018) How Seville Got Its Bicycle Network, https://www.streetfilms.org/how-seville-got-its-bicycle-network/ [the map above is also from this video]

Blue Zones in Seville (in Spanish) https://zona-azul.es/sevilla/
https://translate.google.com.hk/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=https://zona-azul.es/sevilla/

Painted Greek Island

Last updated: 

20 May 2021