Barcelona has been trialling car-free ‘superblocks’ in six locations, with a recent study calculating the European City could save hundreds of lives and radically reduce air pollution by expanding the program.
The so called ‘superblock scheme’ involves closing off groups of streets to almost all traffic and giving this street space over to pedestrians and play areas. With the city’s air quality regularly exceeding the World Health Organisation’s legal limits for airborne pollution, it’s estimated the move could increase life expectancy among city residents by almost 200 days.
With these health benefits would also come economic benefit, with the move estimated to be capable of saving the city over $2.7 billion Australian. With Barcelona being a relatively dense city in terms of population, the new areas opened up by reducing car traffic would also provide opportunity for new public parks and green areas.
The six schemes introduced so far by urban ecology agency BCNecologia have been generally welcomed by those residents affected, especially once locals had the chance to enjoy the benefits of traffic-free neighbourhoods. In all areas where the schemes have been implemented there has been a significant increase in the amount of people traveling by foot or bicycle.
The success of Barcelona’s ‘superblocks’ model has prompted other cities around the world to consider such a scheme, with a proposal to introduce something similar recently announced in Seattle.
- While schemes like this are generally implemented by government, that doesn’t mean we can’t all do our bit to reduce car congestion and air pollution. Try walking or riding to work and enjoy the environmental and health benefits!
- One of the best ways to improve air quality and reduce ambient temperatures in a neighbourhood is to plant a tree. Get involved in National Tree Day and plant a tree in your local area.
Subscribe to Positive Environment News
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.