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Mobility Measure

Former train tunnel turned into a cycling lane.
Extension of infrastructure for cycling and walking

Donostia-San Sebastian wanted to see more people travel around the city by bike and at the same time aimed to maintain the high modal share of walking. To make both mobility options more attractive, the city increased the road space dedicated to them.

Implementing sustainable mobility

The initial goal of this measure was to extend the pedestrian zone by 2 km and introduce 15 km of new cycling lanes.  In addition, the city planned to introduce new bike parking facilities and services. The objectives of the measure were to:

  • Increase priority and road space for walking and cycling;
  • Increase the number of cyclists;
  • Maintain the high modal share of walking;
  • Reduce the amount of private car traffic; and
  • Reduce congestion and pollution.


At the start of the project in 2008, pedestrian zones in the city already covered 98 km² and the network of cycling lanes added up to 28 kilometers. The goals of the new infrastructures were to complete missing connections in the cycling network; to create new walking routes; and to extend the pedestrian zones in the city centre.

How did the measure progress?

Since the start of the project, the cycling network was increased gradually and surpassed the original objective. By the end of the project, 22 kilometers of new cycling laneswere realized. This included both exclusive lanes and stretches with coexistence. Two former train tunnels were converted into cycling tracks creating important shortcuts where cyclists previously had to take a much longer route to avoid steep hills. Moreover, new pedestrian routes, of in total 3.6 km, were introduced along the Urumea River and in other green areas. In January 2011, a new stretch of pedestrian area in the Arrasate Street was added to the already extensive pedestrian zone in the city centre. The new infrastructures were promoted with updated maps of the cycling network and walking routes in the city centre. The map with walking routes contained also information about the duration of different walking trips in the city. In addition, 60 new bicycle parking facilities (providing parking space for 600 bicycles) were installed across the city. Furthermore, underground bicycle parking facilities were opened in the city centre in order to stimulate the use of the bicycle. In particular, indoor bicycle parking inside underground car parking lots in the city centre are offered to cyclists, providing financial incentives to the residents of these areas to use the service. Finally, in August 2012, induction loops were installed at 7 strategic points of the cycle lane network. These cyclist counters are connected to the traffic management software and will provide 24/7 data on the number of cyclist.

What were the outcomes of the measure?

This measure was part of a package of measures aiming to increase the use of non-motorised modes as well as reducing the number of private cars entering the city and circulating within its neighbourhoods. The extension of the pedestrian and cycling network prompted a steady increase in the use of the bicycle, meaning a 33 percent increase during the CIVITAS project (2008-2011). In 2011 the increase in cycling levels was 26 percent compared with the previous year.

In terms of modal shift in favour of sustainable modes of transport, results were moderate in the short term, achieving an overall reduction in car use of 0.1 percent as compared with the situation before the CIVITAS project started. It should be highlighted that this achievement is made in a context of a steady increase in car travel, thus it can be considered a positive result. On the other hand, walking levels seemed to be following a slightly decreasing trend, which is not a desirable result (0.3 percent reduction in modal share as compared to the situation before the project started). Attention should be placed to this issue in the coming years.

The calculations on the benefit to cost ratio indicate that benefits were nearly six times larger than costs (BCR = 5.87). This result reveals that the implementation of non-motorized infrastructure was a very cost-effective measure.

Basic Information

August 2013

Thematic Areas