The plan aims to transform three streets into “green zones” where there are 21 public squares
Barcelona has unveiled an ambitious plan to expand its low traffic zones and reclaim the city’s inner streets from motor vehicles. The strategy will prioritize cyclists and pedestrians in an effort to reduce pollution while offering green spaces.
The plans rely on the city’s environmental “superblocks” starting with two districts in early 2016 that cut traffic, restricts motorist access to car owners, emergency services, or deliveries. One of the three streets in the polluted Eixample district will turn into a green zone under the 20th-century scheme devised by engineer Ildefons Cerdà.
Also read: Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Nears Completion
The superblocks scheme
In its entirety, the plan will cost €37.8m over the next 10 years and change the superblocks policy introduced in 2016. The Superblock scheme bundles nine city blocks and closes them to traffic with benches, plant pots, cycling lanes, play areas, and green spaces with seating areas.
There is no express ban on cars but the superblocks are inaccessible for motorists. Thus far there are six, with 11 more due over the years. If the plan is carried out in entirety, there will be over half a thousand. Superblocks are an oasis of tranquility in a city where 6000 people have motor vehicles per square kilometer. Through the Cerdà plan, Barcelona hopes to tackle the shortage in public spaces and address the chronic pollution problem.
Also read: New Gaudí house museum in Barcelona
Barcelona has yet to meet the World Health Organization or EU recommended limit on nitrogen dioxide (particulate) pollution. Recommended levels of NO2 as per WHO are 40 micrograms per cubic meter, while the rest of the city is above 47 µg/m 3.
Cities like Milan and Paris have been widening their pavements, closing down streets temporarily, extending cycling lanes, closing parking spaces, and expanding the public space in their responses to covid-19. The measures are highly welcomed despite opposition from car lobbies.
Since the March lockdown, 29 km of cycling lanes have been created throughout the city - sending the total to 240km, of which 12km is pavement. Meanwhile, the new developments have eliminated 1300 parking spaces.