Streets that were once exclusively used by vehicles have been transformed into walkable, mixed-use public spaces, so-called “superblocks”. Within these superblocks, pedestrians, cyclists, and citizens mix in safety with the usage of thorough urban design tools such as signs and painted pathways. Only the resident’s vehicles and delivery vehicles can enter the superblocks, and when they do, they are on the same level of pavement as pedestrians and must, therefore, match their speed to those.
The plan is not to eliminate vehicles or deny anyone that needs them but to reduce their prevalence.
Barcelona has already reclaimed 5,000 square meters from vehicles this year and the plan is to continue reclaiming another 21,000 square meters.
The introduction of “superblocks” could be the start of a major paradigm shift in urban planning which could result in a shift from having a vehicle-centred perspective to a human-centred approach. Also, with the rise of new mobility services being created everywhere, cites are now more than ever having to face how to accommodate its inhabitants' needs, both in terms of mobility and environmental setting.
Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE Viktoria.
1. 2019-09-11. Cars dominate cities today. Barcelona has set out to change that.