Cities seem to have been designed specifically for cars, and most of the world’s most important cities are ruled by them, leaving pedestrians, bikers, and all other forms of human life forced to circulate through narrow lanes and sidewalks. In Barcelona are decided to change that with a new idea: Barcelona’s Superblocks.
In the last few decades, Barcelona has become swarmed with cars and choked by air pollution, so the town hall came up with an Urban Mobility Plan back in 2013 with the aim of giving the city back to the people and reducing pollution within the space of five years. The plan includes projects such as building 186 miles of brand-new bike lanes, redesigning the bus system to create better access to it as well as an increased frequency, increasing the square meters of green space and the creation of the so called “Superblocks” (Superilles in Catalan).
The concept of the superblocks was developed by the director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona Salvador Rueda and it is quite simple: the superblocks will be overlaid on the current street grids, ideally taking up nine contiguous square blocks of city and within each superblock, the streets and intersections will be closed off to traffic and used as community areas such as green spaces, plazas and playgrounds.
The project expects to create at least five superblocks within the city by 2018. The plan is divided in two phases: the first phase aims to allow only local vehicles circulate through the superblocks with a limited speed of 20km/h, allowing curbside parking, and the superblocks will mainly be implemented through changing traffic signals. Phase two, however, is much more ambitious than phase one, aiming to drastically transform the city and the way citizens use public space, forbidding curbside parking and substituting it for off-street parking, and leaving the street space to be used solely by people for games, events, sports and cultural activities.