Superblocks in Barcelona

Vox published Superblocks: how Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars, with an accompanying video:

As a dedicated local pedestrian (I hold a driver’s license to travel where public transit won’t), I am always interested in how large cities are accommodating car-less development.

@mlinksva has commented for years on community usage of streets and better use of land held by freeways. We live here in Oakland, so eir observations echo my own.

One point Vox makes is that US streets are two wide for comfortable pedestrian usage. I don’t agree, but maybe there is something to that: would you hang out in the middle of the main street of your city? I think we could come up with some creative solutions for that empty space. :slight_smile:

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Oh yeah, one more thing I was gonna mention: Barcelona looks like a beautiful city! I mean, the symmetry from air and those enclosed building blocks, so fascinating.

Wide streets are harder to cross and wide lanes means killer objects go faster. Putting one or both on a diet makes streets better for pedestrians. That’s my understanding anyway, and vaguely backed by casual observation/lack of experience counter-examples.

Related, I also really recommend (summary of a paper and a podcast retelling). Killers won 90-100 years ago, though they didn’t have to. We should use the beginnings of autonomous vehicles to legalize pedestrians in the streets and to ban human drivers.

To clarify, they mentioned it as meaning wider lanes don’t make for good conversion to car-less streets. In older cities that have narrow streets, they are somehow easier or better suited to prohibit cars, and the implication is that people don’t congregate on wider avenues the same way. That’s what I was referring to, and questioning. :slight_smile:

Seems to me it is easier to convert narrower streets and people do congregate differently depending on narrowness of street. But I don’t really know, all kinds of other factors are probably as or more important for both ease of conversion and congregation. In any case I’m all for converting all streets, including very very wide ones…such as freeways. :slight_smile:

Another big media story on the topic

It occurred to me that speed bumps are a cheap way to get partway to superblocks. They do make killer objects go much slower. Oakland apparently has lots of them, see speed bump - Oakland - LocalWiki … I’ve noticed some in my neighborhood but haven’t seen them mapped anywhere. There might be some virtual superblocks in Oakland formed by groups of blocks with speed bumps on all of the interior arcs. 4-way stops or roundabouts at every intersection also slow down many killers.

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But they are supposed to roll out to the whole city by 2018. Early results are good, though drivers complain their killing machines go slower:

Focusing on the superblock installed in Gràcia, Rueda found that since 2007, walking had increased in the area by 10 percent and cycling by 30 percent. Driving in the superblock as a whole had fallen by 26 percent, while in the internal streets, it had fallen by 40 percent. If this pattern is extended across the city by 2018, Barcelona could finally manage to improve its currently poor air quality, where pollution habitually rises above E.U.-prescribed safe levels.

During the Women’s March, as we were walking down Broadway, I felt so free and happy in that open space. Granted, I wouldn’t want those numbers of folks in that space at all times, but it made me think that wide avenues could work well as pedestrian spaces.

I imagine it would be nice to extend the chairs and tables at Latham Square into the street, it would no doubt be an extremely popular strip of Oakland.