Madrid bans half of cars from roads to fight air pollution
Odd- and even-numbered vehicles will swap use of roads in Spanish capital until smog eases
Thursday 29 December 2016 11.11 GMT
Madrid has ordered half of most private cars off the roads on Thursday to tackle worsening air pollution, a first in Spain.
The restrictions will operate between 6.30am and 9pm. The city council said in a statement: “vehicles with even-number registration plates will be allowed to drive around on even-number days and cars with odd-number registration plates on odd-number days”.
The measure is activated when levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere go above 200 microgrammes per cubic metre in at least two measuring stations for two days running, and if the air is unlikely to clear imminently.
On Thursday, city environment councillor Ines Sabanes said the ban would not be extended as smog levels had dropped by the required amount. Other measures, including a ban on street parking for non-residents and reduced speed limits, will continue.
There are exceptions to the ban, such as for mopeds, hybrid cars, those carrying three people or more or used by disabled people. Buses, taxis and emergency vehicles are also exempt.
“It’s not about traffic restrictions but about the important issue of public health,” deputy mayor Marta Higueras said. “Lots of people suffer from breathing problems and are very affected by pollution.”