If you’re curious to see what urban planning that focuses on people rather than cars looks like, Barcelona is the right city to look at. A year ago, the Spanish city introduced its “Superblocks” project, which transforms nine-block grids of the city into areas that prioritize pedestrians and bikes instead of cars.
Now, the city is preparing to improve pedestrian life even further by turning one in three downtown streets into “green axes” that give the public space back to pedestrians and cyclists. The new project, which will be implemented over the next 10 years and cost an estimated $44 million, will convert 21 intersections into public squares, meaning that no one in the area is more than around 650 feet from a small park.
“We want Barcelona to be a sustainable city, to be a livable city,” said Janet Sanz, the city’s deputy mayor for ecology, urbanism, and mobility. “And we understand that today in our public spaces, we have a lot of social and community activities, but they are dominated by private transportation, both moving cars, and parked cars.”
By eliminating through traffic and parking spaces on 21 streets, and adding walkable and bike-friendly paths, playgrounds, and green spaces, the plan aims to give residents the health benefits of having nearby parks, facilitate walking and biking, and reduce noise and air pollution.