Traffic Restriction Measures in the Lisbon City Centre: Opportunity Lost or Mistake Avoided?
Paulo Rui Anciaes, University College London
This paper analyses the impact of a traffic restriction policy in the Lisbon city centre, assessing the redistribution of exposures to traffic noise among populations in different age and qualification groups.
Traffic restriction policies address economic, social and environmental issues at the local level but may have effects beyond their area of application. Due to social and political opposition, a proposal to restrict all car traffic crossing the Lisbon old city centre ("Baixa") was recently abandoned.
This paper assesses the potential effects of this policy would have in terms of the distribution of noise exposures among populations belonging to different age and qualification groups.
The changes in exposures are obtained through the modelling of motorised traffic and noise levels in the pre- and post-policy scenarios. The analysis assumed that car users react to the policy by seeking alternative routes or shift to public transport.
The analysis found that under this assumption, the traffic restriction policy would have only a modest effect in the reduction of noise exposures in their area of application. In addition, due to the redistribution of traffic, the policy would lead to a wide redistribution of exposures among neighbourhoods in other areas of the city, including in regions far from the restricted area.
This finding raises equity issues, as the city centre tends to have an older and less-qualified population than the city average, but in the other areas affected by the policy there is an overall negative impact on low- qualified populations. If provision is not made for alternatives for the suppressed traffic, this type of policies have extensive impacts throughout the city and complex trade-offs between the levels of environmental quality of different groups in society.
Association for European Transport