Starting in November, Madrid will bar non-resident vehicles from driving anywhere in the city center. The only cars that will be allowed downtown will be those that belong to locals, zero-emissions delivery vehicles, taxis, and public transit like buses.
While this goal may seem ambitious, Madrid seems to have been inching away from car dependency over the past decade. In 2005, the city set up its first pedestrian-only zone in the dense neighborhood of Las Letras.
Madrid is not the only city getting ready to take the car-free plunge. Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions from diesel.
Here are 13 cities leading the car-free movement.
Oslo, Norway will implement its car ban by 2019.
Oslo plans to permanently ban all cars from its city center by 2019 - six years before Norway's country-wide ban would go into effect.
The Norwegian capital will invest heavily in public transportation and replace 35 miles of roads previously dominated by cars with bike lanes.
"The fact that Oslo is moving forward so rapidly is encouraging, and I think it will be inspiring if they are successful," said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an organization that supports bikers in New York City and advocates for car-free cities.
Madrid's planned ban is even more extensive.
Madrid plans to ban cars from 500 acres of its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city's busiest streets for walking rather than driving.
The initiative is part of the Spanish capital's "sustainable mobility plan," which aims to reduce daily car usage from 29% to 23%. Drivers who ignore the new regulations will pay a fine of at least $100. And the most polluting cars will pay more to park.
"In neighborhoods, you can do a lot with small interventions," Mateus Porto and Verónica Martínez, who are both architects and urban planners from the local pedestrian advocacy group A PIE, told Fast Company. "We believe that regardless of what the General Plan says about the future of the city, many things can be done today, if there is political will."
In late May, the city also confirmed that it will prohibit non-resident vehicles from its downtown starting in November. CityLab reports that the new initiative could encourage people to driving less in the wider metro area as well.