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The city elections on 14 September delivered a new left/green coalition which has promised an environmental programme that includes reducing air pollution and cutting greenhouse gases by 50% between 1990 and 2020.
The council has defined the area for the car-free zone, and has said car traffic will be discouraged across the whole city through building around 60km of cycle lanes, subsidising the cost of electric bicycles, and giving a ‘massive boost’ to public transport. It aims to reduce car use across the whole of the city by 20% by 2020 and 30% by 2030.
Whether the car ban will happen is still unclear. The council has not yet said how it will be implemented, and it faces opposition from commercial interests who are concerned that 11 of the city’s shopping centres fall in the proposed car-free zone. But councillors in the ruling coalition say the ban will enhance the experience of shopping as well as make better the lives of all people using the city centre.
The city has a population of around 600,000; only around 1,000 live in the centre, but the population swells to around 90,000 during working hours. Buses will be allowed in the city centre, but only cars carrying disabled people and large goods will be permitted.