Skip to main content
Mobility and Transport


Traffic restrictions and charges aimed primarily at motorised vehicles can be valuable complementary measures to increase the positive impact of a range of cycling measures. They can act as ‘push’ measures, steering modal choice and increasing the ‘pull’ effect of accompanying cycling measures significantly.

Considerations for applicability

Cyclist icon

Level of cycling

Traffic restrictions and charges are applicable to cities with any level of cycling uptake. These measures can be particularly powerful for starter cities, reinforcing the introduction of other measures through promoting cycling as a cost-effective, sustainable mode of transport.


Topography cityscape icon

Urban layout/topography

Both urban layout and topography can influence the design of traffic restrictions and charges. It is essential to consider the sensitivity of users to different measures at hilly topographies, as other measures may have a greater impact on the uptake of cycling.

People icon


Traffic restrictions and charges can influence the modal choice decisions of a range of population groups, including tourists, students, and employees located within an area where restrictions and/or charges have been implemented.

Euro coin icon

Finance Resources

Traffic restriction and charges measures can vary in terms of the financial resources required to implement. Usually, measures can be implemented at low cost. In addition, the revenues generated can often be directed towards sustainable transport projects.

Non-revenue measures require larger initial investments and often generate considerable maintenance costs.

Parking space management at TU Graz, as well as Nottingham's workplace parking levy, generate revenues and trigger stakeholders to engage in alternative modal choices. The schemes applied in Amsterdam and Ghent also utilise revenues from paid parking for sustainable mobility development projects.

The superblock model of Vitoria Gasteiz was also carried out at low cost.

Clock icon representing time

Time & Human Resources

The time and human resources required to plan traffic restrictions and charges tend to be significant, as they are often informed by intensive stakeholder and citizen engagement and campaigning. Organisational changes often take years to shape before installation.

For implementation, the necessary time and human resources depend on the nature of the measure: although site-based and non-infrastructural measures can be put into practice in a relatively short period of time, large system changes, organisational restructuring and infrastructural measures tend to require several months or years.

Measure impact highlight

Public transport, bus and cyclist

Modal share

Traffic restrictions and charges impact people's modal choices. As a "push" measure, they cause individuals to reconsider their chosen mode of transport. The effect is greater if traffic restrictions and charges are implemented alongside improvements in alternative travel choices, such as enhanced cycling conditions.

Note: An overview of the direct and indirect impacts resulting from correctly implemented cycling measures is available in{Challenges that cities face and how cycling can address them as Link}.

In-depth measure analysis, case studies and further guidance

[collapsed title=Detailed description of the measure]

Key features

Policies and measures in the field of traffic restrictions and charges are important complementary actions for the promotion of sustainable mobility modes, such as cycling. Taking the concept of a ‘push & pull’ approach, they form the ‘push’ element, using means to make private car use less attractive. Conversely, ‘pull’ measures are implemented to increase the attractiveness of cycling.In an attempt to foster the uptake of cycling and promote a modal share increase, measures advancing the use of cycling are expected to have a bigger impact if they are implemented in conjunction with 'push' actions.

A key aspect of traffic restrictions and charges can include the reallocation of road space and parking, as well as the introduction of, or increase in, costs associated with car use. The use of financial mechanisms can be important, to ensure that the income generated from charging car users (for either access or parking) is allocated to sustainable transport projects, including cycling measures.

There are a wide range of options available for policies and measures related to traffic restrictions and charges. Two primary policy groups are detailed here: parking management and traffic access restrictions.

Parking management

Parking management can include a variety of measures, such as the introduction of parking charges, the introduction of parking time limits, the removal or reallocation of parking spaces and integrated parking management.

Parking charges can be applied by site-based solutions, street-wise charging schemes, paid parking zones covering areas within a city or through schemes addressing groups of traffic originators. Site-based parking charges are connected to organisations, such as companies, schools, hospitals or universities (see Technical University of Graz example below) and offer the option to differentiate between permanent users, such as employees, and visitors. Street-wise schemes and paid parking zones are elements of a more comprehensive parking management scheme and address different use cases within the same area, through the use of different charging models such as residential parking, company-related parking or visitor parking. Addressing a group of traffic originators by parking charges relates to the provision of parking by companies, as is the case with the Nottingham parking levy. Payments are used here to finance alternatives for car trips, as well as to trigger mobility plans of traffic originators supporting more sustainable travel schemes.

Measures to limit the maximum duration of parking can be introduced to increase the availability of parking spaces to more people, through locating parking in public spaces, such as shopping areas, city centres or transport hubs (e.g. train stations). Time-limits for parking help to avoid the construction of more parking spaces, since they largely discourage long-term use of parking spaces. Time-limits to parking exist as stand-alone measures, as well as mixed approaches with paid parking schemes.

Removal or reallocation of parking spaces encourages the use of public space for other transport modes or non-transport uses. Reallocation can include moving parking spaces to Park & Ride areas outside of city centres, shifting the last trip sequence to public transport or replacing on-street parking to off-street locations, as in the case of Zurich. Cities benefit through a reduction in car traffic in affected areas, as well as gaining the ability to reuse public space for other purposes. Removal of parking spaces can apply to both on-street and off-­street parking. It can be used to either shift car traffic to other areas or reduce/restrict car traffic. Consequently, public and private space can be used for other purposes, as highlighted by the examples of Zurich and the Technical University of Graz.

Integrated parking management approaches allow a city to combine parking space management options to steer traffic flow and volumes, as well as to trigger a modal shift to sustainable transport modes. Well-integrated approaches add organisational innovations to the on-site measures, such as the Mobility Fund of Amsterdam or the Mobility Company of Ghent. They earmark portions of income from parking space management for sustainable mobility projects and move responsibilities for planning and implementing mobility development to one agent. Both allow comprehensive and long-­term activities to steer urban mobility development.

Parking space management directly affects car traffic by redirecting it to other areas, avoiding parking space search traffic and shifting car trips to other transport modes.

An overview of parking measures has been included in the IEE Push & Pull project available here ( pm catalogue 01062015 final.pdf).

Vehicle access restrictions can be implemented in cities (or defined areas of a city) by excluding defined vehicle groups, charging for access to all motorised vehicles (or defined groups of vehicles), as well as excluding entire transport modes, such as motorised traffic (including or excluding public transport).

Access restrictions to vehicle groups define the types of vehicles which cannot enter a defined area. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are an example of access restrictions aimed at vehicle groups/types. LEZs exclude more heavily polluting vehicles from areas sensitive to air pollution. The criteria used include EURO norms for motorised vehicles' emissions, as well as the type of fuel used to power the vehicle engine, e.g. exclusions of all diesel and/or petrol-powered vehicles. Another use case is restrictions to heavy vehicles to protect sensitive city areas and road infrastructure. The criterion used is mostly vehicle tonnage. Regulating access can apply different limits to vehicle types (e.g. motorbikes, cars, vans, lorries, buses). This option combines a set of different criteria, including emissions, space needed and tonnage.

Tolling and charging schemes differentiate from the above restriction model by working with pricing instead of implementing direct access restriction: users pay for access. The definition of the groups paying can follow the same logic as described directly above: by pollution level or level of damage to infrastructure. Mixed models, such as different payment levels for different transport modes can also be implemented. Tolling and charging schemes add one more use case: to reduce congestion, through congestion charging. Additionally, tolling and charging schemes can apply to simply all vehicles entering a city or city area. The differentiation of pricing levels between different transport modes, such as motorbikes, cars and vans is the most common approach.

Restrictions by transport mode range from dedicating public space to pedestrians, to implementing mixed-use areas for pedestrians and cyclists and potentially public transport (see also{1.8 Cycle streets as Link} and{1.7 Mixed-use zones as Link}).

A further ‘restriction’ imposed on traffic is the use of speed limits. Although speed limits do not directly restrict access, they impact on the attractiveness of car use and support the take-up of cycling. Their use can reduce the speed advantage of motorised traffic compared with cycling, whereas safety conditions for cyclists can be increased. Examples include street-wide or area-wide speed reduction and city-wide solutions applying a speed limit of 30 km/h to the entire city area, such as in Graz for the past 20 years.

Function and objectives

The function and objective of traffic restrictions and charges is largely focused on discouraging the use of motorised transport (primarily targeting the private car), whilst encouraging the uptake of more sustainable modes, such as cycling, walking and public transport. They tend to take location-based and/or target group specific approaches.

An example of location-based and target group specific measures includes the introduction of traffic restrictions and/or charges at the Technical University of Graz (targeting employees) or as part of the school streets measure implemented in Bolzano (targeting parents and children accessing local schools).

An approach to a target group only is demonstrated by the workplace parking levy in Nottingham, while the City of Zurich focuses its measures for inner city parking management at the location itself. Area-focused measures include actions dedicating space to active mobility modes, such as the streets adapted to cycling, mixed-use zones for active modes only and the Super Blocks of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Parking space management schemes, low emission zones and congestion charges follow the same principle, but at a higher level: they address either all individuals or specific groups of car users, and are limited to certain areas within a city. This applies to restricting access for heavy vehicles such as vans and lorries as well, strengthening the case for cycle logistics service providers.

In addition, comprehensive approaches covering the entire population and city area also exist. They are placed at the strategic level and utilise a push and pull approach to foster sustainable urban mobility in the long-term. The examples from Amsterdam and Ghent highlight the integrated and comprehensive approach embracing the use of resources and financing of measures.

Complementary measures

Depending on the nature of the push action, as well as the cycling promotion measures at stake, complementary use of both is possible and recommended. However, it is recommended to consider if complementarity is given such as with installing good quality parking facilities for bicycles (see{2.1 Cycle parking as Link}) and restrictions for access by car to site-based locations, or if the introduction of a workplace parking levy should be combined with a promotional bike-to-work campaign (see{3.1 Cycle information and awareness raising as Link})


Traffic restrictions and charges on the use of cars, as well as vans and lorries, can result in a range of impacts, including reduction of congestion, improvements to accessible space for cyclists, reduction of environmental load, increases in road safety and health, improvements in economic conditions for further actions promoting sustainable urban mobility (such as cycle logistics services), and direct support to a modal shift.

The impacts and performance of selected measures are presented below:

  • A 45% reduction in parking spaces at the Technical University of Graz resulted in savings of 244 tonnes/CO2 per year (related to work trips). The Bolzano school streets halved accident figures and 80% of children travelling to school use public transport, walk or cycle.

  • Road space reallocation can lead to the promotion and uptake of more sustainable transport modes, including cycling. This has been demonstrated in the case of streets adapted to cycling in Malmö and the mixed-use approach to pedestrian zones in Bregenz, which strengthened the positive cycling culture in the city.

  • Restrictions and charges can contribute to motivating employers to engage in company mobility plans. The City of Nottingham used restrictions and charges to finance sustainable urban mobility projects. Zurich made use of the off-street parking space reallocation to provide good quality public spaces with improved cycling conditions. Additionally, Zurich's inner city sees less congestion from the reduction of parking space search traffic. The superblock model of Vitoria-Gasteiz covers all impact categories, as the evaluation of the showcase superblock highlights: it provides almost 60% more space to pedestrians, almost halved the level of noise, cut CO2, NOX and particle emissions by on average 40% and resulted in reduced car traffic and an increase of active mode use.

  • The cases of the mobility fund of Amsterdam and the Mobility Department of Ghent place their main benefits at a larger scale: they allow a safeguarded long-term planning and implementation of sustainable urban mobility strategies, including a fixed financing mechanism. In the case of Amsterdam, a reduction of car use by 30% has been achieved within 20 years, mainly seeing modal shifts to cycling.

  • Area-focused access restrictions to motorised good delivery strengthened the business case of the cargo bike services in Cambridge. The cycle logistics provider serves as the last mile operator into these areas for otherwise conventional good transport using an urban consolidation centre to re-package and delivers goods by cargo bike for the last mile trip.

It is important to note that these 'push' measures are not typically stand-alone actions but are accompanied by 'pull' measures aimed at provision of infrastructure or facilities enabling or promoting sustainable urban mobility. Traffic restrictions and charges tend to be most effective when combined with offering attractive alternatives in the area of sustainable transport modes, such as cycling.

Parameters of success or failure

Traffic restrictions and charges aimed at motorised traffic are applicable in all cities. Limitations regarding the implementation of traffic restrictions and charges are related to the applicable regulatory and legislative framework (regional and/or national level), in addition to the financial capacity to undertake larger initial investments. The latter can be mitigated by a long-term view on generated income, reduction or the potential outweighing of initial costs, as well as making use of private resources by public-private partnerships or direct private investment. An example is creating off-street parking options as an alternative to on-street parking in city centres, with the off-street parking garages requiring major financial investment during initial implementation, but generating revenue in the longer term. However, some measures generate income that can be used for financing sustainable mobility projects, for example, site-based access restrictions, paid-parking approaches, workplace parking levies or comprehensive approaches to urban mobility planning, such as in Amsterdam and Ghent. Altogether, most measures can be realised at low investment costs or produce direct income.

High importance needs to be given to careful participation at the planning stage, related to communication and awareness activities. The introduction of traffic restrictions and charges tends to be met by initial opposition from different population groups. However, through explaining, testing and demonstrating successful implementation, opinions can change.

Political will and support are crucial to plan, consult and implement restrictive and initially unpopular measures, as are analogous improvements to other transport means offering alternatives to car trips. Therefore, the planning phase can be both time- and staff-intensive in order to safeguard appropriate conditions to support successful implementation.

Time, staff and other resources required for the implementation of traffic restrictions and charges vary largely depending on the specific measure being considered. For example, introducing mixed-use areas (including cyclists/pedestrians) is likely to include the use of appropriate signage, whereas enforcement of school streets also requires instructing traffic guards. The implementation of the superblock approach or the inner-city parking management (e.g. Zurich) requires a much greater time commitment and staff resource, related to the extended ongoing effort. Approaches like those implemented in Amsterdam and Ghent are likely to take a number of years to implement. Communication and awareness-raising of the start or starting period are advisable to all measures, to support successful implementation.

Key lessons for transferability

Traffic restrictions and charges for car use require good participation and a promotion strategy and are best combined with actions promoting alternatives such as cycling.


[collapsed title=Case Studies]

[collapsed title=The Superblocks model (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain)]

  • Location: Southern
  • Population: Medium urban area (247,000)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Climber (13%)

Vitoria-Gasteiz saw an increase in car use in the period 2001 - 2006 from 20.6 % to 36 %, due to its rapid growth causing longer trip distances. As a result of this increase, the city stated an objective to reduce the environmental impact of transport and to increase the accessibility of public space to other uses that did not involve motorised transport. Vitoria-Gasteiz created the łSuper Block' approach with the aim of installing 77 blocks dedicating 71 % of public space within this area primarily to cycling and walking.

łSuperblocks' are areas of the city adjacent to main traffic arteries granting limited access to residents' cars, emergency vehicles and freight distribution. They require a road grid definition in a basic network of high car use (15-20% of the network) and an inner secondary network inside the blocks dedicated to primarily local traffic. Superblocks are based on a coexistence approach among pedestrians, cyclists and cars clearly allocating more road space to more sustainable transport modes. Speed limits within Superblocks are 30 km/h or lower. In 2015, 17 Superblocks were created including measures such as reduced on-street parking, new goods delivery regulations and improved walking and cycling conditions. Most of the Superblocks used low-cost measures such as reduced speeds (by speed limits and infrastructure elements) forcing motorists to adapt to pedestrian and cyclists' speed. Superblocks have been created via a permanent working group of planners, technicians and politicians for a strong consensus and continuous implementation. This group is constantly addressing citizens' associations to align plans with them and to incorporate their improvement proposals. Additionally, a communication and sensitisation campaign was carried out to create a positive perception of the new mobility culture.

Results for the showcase Superblock around Sancho el Sabio Street were:

  • Increased space for pedestrians from 47 % to 74 %
  • Reduced noise levels from 65 dBA to 61 dBA
  • Emission reduction by 42% CO2 and NOx and 38% for particles
  • Reduced car use and increase use of active modes
  • Improvements in goods supply movements.

The main barrier to the implementation of the Superblock approach was to overcome firmly- established mobility behaviour and lifestyle patterns. Additionally, the approach concentrated on efficient, low-cost measures. The main drivers were a strong political will, support from key stakeholders and the inclusion of Superblocks within the city-wide mobility strategy.

Source: Civitas 2020, Innovation brief on SUPERBLOCKS


[collapsed title=Site-based restrictions by parking space management (Graz, Austria)]

  • Location: Central
  • Population: Medium urban area (286,000)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Climber (14.5%)

As part of its site-based mobility management, the Technical University of Graz used a push and pull approach to motivate its employees to use bicycles and public transport for their work trips. Access restrictions (acting as the ‘push’) are implemented in two ways:

  1. All employees living within a distance of 2.5 km of their workplace cannot apply for a parking permit for the university's car parking spaces. It should be noted that two of the university locations are located in paid parking areas with maximum parking duration of three hours.
  2. Parking at the university areas is subject to paid parking management. Depending on two factors, the employment level (full time or part time) and the type of parking space (weather protected or not), employees need to pay between €15-40 per month. Access to parking spaces is protected by a smart card access scheme.

The Technical University of Graz succeeded in reducing its car parking spaces from 1,340 to 740, due to these restrictions and the accompanying promotion of cycling and public transport use (see Provision of facilities at workplaces for details of the ‘pull’ measures). One of the main success factors, as well as the successful combination of push and pull measures, was the strong will of the staff at the Technical University to implement the scheme, which met little to no opposition from its employees. One reason for the swift acceptance was that the scheme was preceded by a study on work trip distances connected to the potential of alternatives to car use for work trips. This study was the backbone for the "ban" of parking permits for employees living close to the workplace.


[collapsed title=Site-based restrictions by road closure to motorised traffic (Bolzano, Italy)]

  • Location: Central
  • Population: Medium urban areas (107,000)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Champion (29%)

The City of Bolzano has faced similar problems to many cities during school start and finish times as parents drop off and pick up their children. Bolzano introduced a ban to motorised traffic, 15 minutes before school starts and ends to improve safety for children, beginning with the streets where six schools are located. Cyclists and pedestrians are still able to access the street, but for those children arriving by car, drivers are informed of the temporary road closures and school guides walk the children to the school. The "school streets" met strong initial opposition by parents and people living in the streets affected by the changes, but thanks to the cooperation of the police, the municipality, the schools and the school guides, this has been replaced by strong support. Bolzano's school streets have been implemented for 25 years and have been extended to include 10 schools over this period. About 80% of all children travel to school either by bus, bicycle or on foot. It is estimated that accident rates have halved as a result of the measure.

Despite strong initial opposition to the measure, backing from the municipalities, alongside strong working partnerships, encouraged the enforcement of the measure. The implementation of school streets also act as awareness-raising measures, providing education for the children; encouraging them to use and familiarise themselves with more sustainable modes of transport; and hopefully, encourage them to continue to use them after they have left school.

Similar traffic restrictions around schools have been implemented in other European cities. Bregenz (AT) and Odense (DK) even apply a model closing the school street for motorised traffic from 7 am until 7 pm on school days.

Find more information here (


[collapsed title=Workplace parking levy in Nottingham (Nottingham, UK)]

  • Location: North West
  • Population: Medium urban area (321,500)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Starter (4%)

The City of Nottingham introduced a "workplace parking levy" to reduce the burden of congestion during the morning traffic peak. It was estimated that 70% of the traffic was caused by commuters. The workplace levy is aimed at employers, providing more than 10 workplace parking spaces. It started with charging an annual fee of €313 per space and subsequently increased to €459 per space. Parking spaces for users with reduced mobility were not subject to the levy. Employers registered about 45,500 parking spaces of which 28,000 are subject to the levy resulting in more than €12 million being raised by the city each year. The introduction of the levy led to companies to engage in workplace travel plans and encourage employees/commuters to consider alternative modes of transport for their work trips, rather than the use of private cars. The income generated as a result of the levy is intended for investment in public transport service improvements such as a tram line extension, the redevelopment of the rail station, the development of the bus network and parking management supporting measures.

The advantage of the workplace parking levy compared to measures such as congestion charging is that it directly affects the users which are primarily causing the issue.


[collapsed title=Inner city parking management (Zurich, Switzerland)]

  • Location: Central
  • Population: Medium urban area (402,767)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Climber (8%)

The City of Zurich has taken an integrated approach to transport development and parking since the early 1990s. Its city centre sees high demand for the limited available public space. The city's aim was to improve the public space available for walking and cycling, alongside increasing the accessibility of all areas focusing on trade and economic activities. One of the city's measures became well known as the "historical compromise". In this, the city defined a zone and agreed with stakeholders:

  • The number of parking spaces would not increase;
  • On-street parking would be removed in favour of facilities for cycling/walking and public space;
  • For each on-street parking space removed, an off-street parking space (in garages) would be provided to avoid any potential disadvantage for retail/business in the city centre.

Additionally, parking fees were to be set at a high level to discourage any unnecessary car trips to the city centre, leaving parking spaces available for those who need access to the city centre by car. More than 900 parking spaces have been removed from the streets and subsequently provided off-street. The traffic caused by searching for parking spaces decreased due to the direct access of off-street spaces.

The historical compromise saw disputes about defining the zone the measure should apply to, but contrasting needs were met through compromises. Switzerland generally has a strong culture of direct democracy, so the concerns of stakeholders and people in Zurich were accommodated. Zurich's parking policy is within its overall transport policy, which has led to synergies relating to fostering alternatives to car use with parking space limitations.


[collapsed title=Integrating parking into mobility development and financing – the mobility fund (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)]

  • Location: North-West
  • Population: Metropole (821,752)
  • Cycling Modal Share: Champion (32%)

In 1991, parking fees became a municipal tax in Amsterdam. This enabled the city to set up a financing mechanism supporting soft mobility, called the "Mobility Fund". The fund makes use of the income from 156,000 paid parking spaces in Amsterdam, which generate about €160 million each year. This amount feeds three major actions: 38% is delivered to management and maintenance of the parking system, 23% for the city-wide Mobility Fund and 39% for the City District's Mobility Funds. The Mobility Funds are used for investments in walking and cycling development, public transport services and Park & Ride measures, all contributing towards a modal shift to sustainable transport through improving. The city government owns the decision-making process for the distribution of money from the Mobility Fund. The Mobility Fund is also used to replace on-street parking with off-street parking options.

Additional regulations, such as the inner-city parking policy, contribute to sustainable transport use: Amsterdam invested in providing off-street parking spaces (city-owned and rented from private providers) replacing more than 3,300 on-street spaces. New regulations also resulted in the removal of on-street parking or parking altogether in inner-city areas. In such areas, new development inhabitants have no option to apply for resident on-street parking permits and are required to pay the same as everyone else when parking a car on-street. Financial incentives are offered to those who are willing to park outside the centre, including rewards for long-term use of Park & Ride facilities. Existing parking permit holders that rarely drive are encouraged to give up their parking licence and are guaranteed a short-cut in applying for a new licence if they require one in the future– (otherwise the application waiting period is up to 28 months). Parking permits for SME employees were made more flexible, allowing users to park anywhere in the city centre rather than within close proximity of their workplace.

Car parking fees and reduced on-street parking, coupled with better networks for public transport and bicycles, car-limiting circulation and more P+R facilities have led to a 30% reduction of car use in the city centre (district Centrum) over the last 20 years. The growth of bicycle traffic has mostly replaced car traffic. During the same period, road safety has improved. Parking pressure measured by occupancy decreased from 90% in 1990 to 75% in 2008. The new inner-city parking policy is expected to remove about 1,700 on-street parking spaces, contributing towards 2,600 fewer cars parked and associated with a 5-minute reduction in the time needed to find a parking space.



[collapsed title=Key guidance, further reading and references]

Catalogue of Case Studies for Parking Management approaches by the IEE Push & Pull project

(8.73 MB - PDF)

Difu (2011) Cycling Expertise Shared Space

(1.43 MB - PDF)

CentralMeetBike FactSheet Traffic Calming Measures

(1.83 MB - PDF)

Urban Transport and Transport Planning Committee (2017) Mobility in good cities:

(838.25 KB - PDF)

LANDZINE: Renovation of Slovenska Boulevard in Ljubljana:

Civitas 2020, Innovation brief on SUPERBLOCKS

(942.12 KB - PDF)