Currently faced with excessive pollution and noise levels, Barcelona has come up with a new mobility plan to reduce traffic by 21 per cent. And it comes with something extra: freeing up nearly 60% of streets currently used by cars to turn them into so-called “citizen spaces”. The plan is based around the idea of superilles (superblocks) – mini neighbourhoods around which traffic will flow, and in which spaces will be repurposed to “fill our city with life”, as its tagline says.
For this line of action, Barcelona's Urban Mobility Plan proposes a series of measures aimed at reducing inefficiencies in the mobility system and the number of journeys with no added value. For instance, it is recommended that action be taken on the urban distribution of goods by creating logistic microplatforms, as there are many goods delivery vehicles on the streets, especially those providing the home delivery services offered by many companies.
A commitment to new mobility management technologies within the framework of the emerging smart city concept, is another area which will be affected in coming years, since new communication tools have opened up a range of applications that could contribute to easing traffic congestion, optimise collective public transport services and help citizens move more easily in public areas.
Famous for its grid system planned by Spanish civil engineer Ildefonso Cerdá in the 19th Century, the district of Eixample will be the first area subject to the new plans. Here, superilles (superblocks) will span nine actual blocks (three by three) and restrict vehicles entering unless owned by residents or businesses within. Once inside vehicles will only be allowed to travel 6mph compared to the city standard of 30mph (keeping to the apparent rule of fifths).
The superilles will also incorporate changes in other aspects of traffic circulation including new road signage and bus routes. Other methods of transport are being encouraged, including public transport and cycling (186 miles of new cycle lanes are also being put down).
The plan suggests 95 specific measures oriented to reach (by 2020) close to a six per cent reduction of traffic in the city in favour of pedestrian mobility, bicycle use and public transport. Madrid estimates that implementing the measures will result in 3.2 million fewer kilometres being travelled by car per day, which corresponds to a reduction of 135 000 tons of CO2, 400 tons of NOx and 26 tons of PM2.5.