Pedestrian and Motor Vehicle Traffic Control Practices for Light Rail Transit: Innovations in New Light Rail Transit System, Barcelona, Spain

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, infrastructure - vehicle, planning - safety/accidents, organisation - management, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, mode - bike, mode - pedestrian


Vehicular traffic control, Traffic management (Traffic control), Street traffic control, Pedestrians, Pedestrian traffic, Pedestrian safety, Pedestrian flow, Light rail transit, Innovation, Highway traffic control, Cyclists, Bicyclists, Bicycle riders, Barcelona (Spain)


The focus of this paper is to provide an informative summary on innovative pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic control designs and practices that have been applied to the recently opened light rail system in Barcelona, Spain. In April 2004 Barcelona, the capital of the Catalunya region, opened a completely new light rail system to expand and support its extensive subway, bus, and commuter rail system. Known locally as the Trambaix and Trambesòs, these two light rail lines operate within a broad range of urban environments, both on street and in semiexclusive rights-of-way. Accommodating light rail in these multiple environments while maintaining or improving safety has led local transportation planners and engineers to use a variety of innovative traffic control practices to manage conflicting movements with LRVs and to provide motorists, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists, with better information on which to base their decisions. This paper, based on the author’s site visits and technical discussions with local planners and engineers, summarizes these practices and identifies those that could have the greatest potential for implementation in the United States.