Bilbao: Slow and steady for the win

8 December 2020

Bilbao has traditionally been a mostly pedestrian city and has worked hard to develop a mobility plan to improve the health and well-being of its residents. One concrete action of the city’s plan was to reduce the speed limit of most streets to 30km/h. Since the Summer of 2018, 87% of Bilbao’s streets were converted to 30km/h, and since September 2020, 100% of Bilbao’s roads have a maximum speed of 30 km/h.

During Eurocities’ recent Safe and Active Travelling working group meeting, Bilbao has shared the first numbers observed since the new regulations have been put in place. The city has put together some compelling arguments for an increase of 30 km/h roads in cities.

If 100% roads at 30 km/h, then…

Bilbao has noticed a 22.9% decrease in the number of road accidents between 22 September and 21 October 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. The city also issued 46.6% fewer penalties for jumping red traffic lights. In general, drivers respected the new rules, with more than double the vehicles driving under 30 km/h after the new rules came into play.

Proportion of vehicles by speed bands before and after the change to 30 km/h streets on September 22, 2020. Measurements were made with radars from July 3, 2018 to October 20, 2020.

In the same period, atmospheric pollution has also decreased: 11.4% less NO2-µm3, 17.1% less NOX-µm3, and 19.1% less PM10.

Too slow for the rhythm of a city?

Bilbao does not agree. As the saying goes: “Slow and steady wins the race!” For example, deliveries have not been negatively impacted by the new regulation, the number of orders delivered per hour remained the same. Busses even turned out to be faster under the new regulation with a global average of arriving four minutes in advance.

Ready to convert to 30 km/h yet?

Read more about Bilbao’s mobility plan here.


Wilma Dragonetti Eurocities Writer