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Are cities for cars or pedestrians? The 'superblocks' of Barcelona

The sustainability of large cities is one of the main tasks facing those responsible for town planning. The population growth coupled with the rapid expansion of the more peripheral areas of cities pose a serious challenge in many aspects. Of course, the environmental footprint is evident but it is no less the decline in functionality and livability by the amount of traffic in cities. Barcelona has managed to find a model of urban organisation that begins to awaken the interest of the rest of the world.

In 2014, the City Council concluded that one of the most pleasant and visited cities in Europe was losing some of its appeal precisely because of the increased traffic and all the problems that it entails. It was at that time when the director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, ​​Salvador Rueda, raised the idea of ​ 'superblocks'. The 'superblocks' would be large blocks of buildings grouped together as a grid as part of the expansion of Barcelona. This project is very similar to the one in Eixample back in the 19th century. 

These 'superblocks' would be much larger than the current ones, to the point that the ideal model proposed would involve up to 9 of these new urban structures. Each would be surrounded by wide avenues that would allow more agile movements for vehicles that pass through the city. Logically, each of the 'superblocks' would have its own street, similar to the current streets, while significantly limiting the driving speed (up to 20 km / h) and giving priority to alternative transportation such as bicycles (with new lanes).

Barcelona - los-superbloques-de-barcelona-01.jpg

Photo: © Wikimedia

Such an ambitious project involves two phases in its implementation. Its promoters estimate that about 60 per cent of the current available space will consist of traffic and pedestrians. The proposed model has already begun in some areas of the city with the purpose of testing not only its benefits, which seems quite logical, but also its viability... It should not be forgotten that the urban transformation must be strictly carried out in a way that it doesn't cause any unnecessary problems to such a dynamic city like Barcelona.

Whatever happens, the list of potential benefits is endless. Barcelona's commitment to the concept of sustainable mobility is confirmed. Once the project has completed, we will see all kinds of positive synergies that enable more green spaces to be created as well as greater road safety. There will even be bigger possibilities for communities to come together and create lots of activities in their neighbourhoods. Barcelona leads the way.


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