Get a Glimpse of Barcelona’s “Superblocks” in Action

Barcelona's "superblocks," which restrict car access and expand public space, are beginning to take shape in Barcelona. Image: Barcelona Urban Mobility Plan
Barcelona's "superblocks," which restrict car access and expand public space, are beginning to take shape in Barcelona. Image: Barcelona Urban Mobility Plan

Barcelona is making headway on its “superblocks,” clusters of nine city blocks where car traffic is restricted and public space is expanded.

The city has installed four superblocks so far and plans to add five more this year before rapidly expanding the program in 2018, reports CityLab.

Like any major change to the streets, the superblocks have their detractors. But this video from the BBC shows how one works and it looks… great. Car traffic is down 40 percent inside this superblock, though there isn’t enough data yet to evaluate the change in traffic on the perimeter. (One concern with the concept is that transit may become slower — and less convenient if the walk to the bus gets longer.)

The BBC video shows how the four intersections within a superblock function. Most of the street space is reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists, and motor vehicles are limited to narrow rights-of-way that don’t provide linear access across the superblock.

The superblocks are part of a larger Barcelona initiative to improve air quality by reducing vehicle traffic 21 percent.

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