Barcelona’s plan to take back streets from cars
Superblocks –Superilles in Spanish- is an urban design concept which intends to minimize the presence of vehicles in city centers. This is done by taking nine square city blocks and only allow destination traffic within the block. Moreover, underground parking will replace curbside parking, and the speed limit within the superblock will be 10 km per hour. As a result, more space will become available for markets, outdoor activities and events.
The Superilles have been implemented in a couple of neighborhoods in Barcelona and have been such a success that Barcelona wants to complete three more before 2020 and hundreds in the coming years! Poblenou’s superblock is one of the success stories. Even though, the superblock just “appeared” one night the neighborhood is loving it right now. The results are promising; crime is reduced because the tourist now dominates the streets. Therefore, local businesses have been blooming, and the roads are full of people instead of cars.
Moreover, air pollution is drastically reduced; nitrogen oxide emission with 42 percent and particle pollution with 38 percent. And, the noise pollution has also fallen with 5.5 dBA all because the block merely has repelled cars from their block. A study of Gracia found that foot travel in the area increased by 10 percent and bicycle traffic by 30 percent, while vehicle traffic declined by 26 percent in interior streets.
Consequently, residents are biking to work and through the neighborhood instead of driving. The residents of the current Superilles are very positive about the changes in their neighborhood. They start to feel like a real community because they mingle more with each other on the street. Now, there is a place outside of your home where you can sit and relax without feeling stressed about the cars and the noise.
Overall, the Superblocks seem to be an excellent solution to the problems that a lot of cities face. Cars have taken over cities, and people should reclaim their streets. Therefore, Barcelona is an example for cities around the world.