Barcelona - the beautiful city on the Mediterranean. Overwhelming thanks to the unique architecture, popular because of the kilometer-long beach promenade, the extensive cultural, gastronomic and entertainment offerings. Terms such as "green" and "sustainability" have so far rarely been associated with the city: too much traffic, too dense buildings, too much air pollution. Statistically speaking, there is currently just 6.6 square meters of green space for one inhabitant of Barcelona. For comparison: in London there are 27, in Amsterdam even 87.5. But Barcelona counteracts - with so-called superblocks.
With these superblocks ("Superilles" in Catalan), up to nine city blocks are combined. Pedestrians and cyclists have priority within these superblocks. On two-lane streets, a track is stolen from the cars: children can play here, residents can drink coffee and chat on newly built park benches.
The dreary gray of the street is replaced by planted raised beds, flower pots and trees. Car traffic is only allowed on the remaining one-way streets - if at all - at 10 to 20 km / h. The result: the streets become an extended living room. You can hear children laughing instead of the noise of the car, breathe in fresh air instead of exhaust fumes, and meet relaxed residents who talk to each other.
The superblocks are at the heart of a concept for sustainable mobility developed by the city administration in 2016. The first superblock was built in 2017 in the Poble Nou district - initially against opposition from business people and drivers, but with great approval from local residents. In the so far designed superblocks that have emerged throughout the city, the feared business death has not materialized. On the contrary: the number of local shops rose by as much as 30 percent.
A total of 503 (!) Superblocks are to be built in Barcelona, ââ60 percent of the streets previously used by cars would thereby be free for other uses. A current study by the health institute BCNecologia Barcelona shows what positive effects the implementation would have: According to this, the life expectancy of residents would increase by almost 200 days. The reduction in emissions would lead to less noise and heat islands - and could prevent around 300 premature deaths per year. According to the study, private car use could fall from 1.19 million trips a week to 230,000. This would reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from the current 47 micrograms per cubic meter to 36 micrograms - and thus fall below the World Health Organization's guide value of 40 micrograms.
Other cities around the world are now also interested in this concept. Barcelona as a role model in terms of sustainable urban development: great!