“Fuck a bunch of Barcelona — we’re Mericans!”
Boy, aren’t we.
The Life-Saving Benefits of Barcelona’s Car-Free ‘Superblocks’, by Laura Bliss (CityLab)
A new study estimates that a citywide plan to limit cars and capture nearly 70 percent of street space for bikes and pedestrians could save 667 lives per year.
When Barcelona officials installed a “superblock” in the working-class neighborhood of Poblenou in 2016, it was fiercely controversial. Closing off a three-square-block chunk of the city to vehicle traffic and reserving those streets for pedestrians and cyclists ticked off motorists, who felt attacked by the fast-and-cheap tactic to reduce car use.
But soon Poblenou residents appreciated the nearly doubled amount of space that they now had to walk, play, and socialize. The resistance soon faded, and five more superblocks have since been implemented around the city; Salvador Rueda, the head of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, envisions creating 503 in total. The ultimate goal is to turn nearly 70 percent of Barcelona’s street space over to people. It’s a project that has attracted a lot of international attention, and some efforts in the United States to replicate the idea.
Fully executing the superblock vision in Barcelona will no doubt face more challenges aplenty. But a new study published in the journal Environment International offers some new evidence supporting the idea: It can deliver vast improvements in urban health. That’s according to a team of Spanish and American scientists who developed a statistical model to measure the potential outcomes of Rueda’s proposed project …