August 19, 2019

Barcelona's Quest to Eliminate Cars

“In 2016, I wrote a brief story on “superblocks,” a hot new urban-planning idea out of Barcelona, Spain, that would reclaim streets from cars and transform them into walkable, mixed-used public spaces.

Ever since then, I’ve wondered how the city’s effort was progressing. So I jumped at the chance to spend 10 days in Barcelona in October, interviewing city officials, urban planning experts, and residents about the history of the program and its prospects for the future.

What I found was more fascinating than anything I could have imagined: not just an urban plan, but a vision for a different way of living in the 21st century, one that steps back from many of the mistakes of the auto-besotted 20th century, refocusing on health and community. It is a bigger and more ambitious city plan than anything being discussed in America and, more important, a plan that is actually being implemented, with a few solid pilot projects behind it, a list of lessons learned, and a half-dozen new projects in the works.”

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