Gaining public space
How have streets been chosen for traffic calming measures, and junctions selected for new green streets and squares?
The green streets in the Superblocks project are those which are used by the most people as they have more commercial activity and facilities, they connect green areas, public transport stops etc. This is why they are to be consolidated as priority pedestrian routes. The squares are located at the junctions between two perpendicular green streets. These junctions are areas where more surface space can be gained for alternative uses, rather than use by cars.
What will there be in the regained squares and spaces?
An ideas contest will be organised to select the most creative proposals for regaining spaces in green streets and the squares for use by citizens. Proposals can include areas for people to relax in, play areas, green spaces and other activities, in connection with the social context of the area.
How many square metres of pedestrian space will be gained?
Around 1,500m2 of public space is expected to be gained for pedestrian use in each street section (one block). This means doubling the current space to achieve some 3,000 m2 in all. The space gained in the squares at the junctions will be around 1,300 m2, tripling the current figure to reach nearly 2,000 m2 of pedestrian space in all.
How many square metres of green space will be gained?
The gain is expected to be at least 10% of the overall surface area for green streets and squares, through zones with vegetation. There will be roughly 300 m2 of greenery along street sections, while in the squares at the junctions the potential space to be gained for greenery is between 190 and 4,000 m2.
Will streets be closed to traffic? Will vehicles be able to use traffic-calmed streets and squares?
No, streets will not be closed to traffic. All vehicles will be able to circulate in these streets and squares, but with speed limits in place and priority for pedestrians and cyclists.
Will local residents be able to use their vehicles here? And car parks?
There will be no restrictions on access. Everybody who needs to will be able to reach their destination: homes, businesses, car parks (private and public) and any other service.
Will speeds be limited?
Yes, to 10 km/h, to ensure proper coexistence with all other types of transport. Cars and motorbikes will have to respect the priority of pedestrians and cyclists.
Will there be changes to the direction of traffic?
The current traffic direction in streets will be respected, unless an occasional change is required. At the junctions to be consolidated as squares, traffic will not be able to continue in the same direction and will be obliged to make a turn to the left or to the right.
Which sections will pedestrians use?
Pedestrians will be able to walk on the entire surface of the streets and squares, with priority over all other modes of transport.
Can bicycles and hand-scooters circulate here?
Bicycles and hand-scooters will be able to circulate in both directions in these streets, up to a maximum speed of 10 km/h and respecting pedestrian priority at all times.
How will circulation work in the squares?
The main purpose of the square is to serve as a place for people to relax and play in. Cars and motorbikes will be able to access squares, but not to cross them. Bicycles and hand-scooters will be able to cross them at low speeds.
Wouldn’t it be better for bikes and hand-scooters to use the bike lane?
Bicycles and hand-scooters will be able to circulate in traffic-calmed streets respecting pedestrian priority and the 10 km/h speed limits. We distinguish between two types of bicycle use, according to the type of user and the reason for their journey: bicycles moving quickly with the purpose of reaching their destination in the shortest space of time, and bicycles being used for recreation, where the quality of the route is the priority. The Superblocks programme seeks to order these two types of use, with the faster-travelling bikes in the segregated bike lanes in basic mobility streets and the slower bikes able to circulate in green streets and squares respecting pedestrian priority.
Where should cars go which previously used these streets?
Ample evidence exists and testing has shown that some of the traffic which previously used the traffic-calmed green streets ends up dispersing and has no effect on adjacent streets. During the first months there may be occasional increases in traffic, but studies show that introducing calming measures in a street means that car users switch to other means of transport (metro, tram, bus, bike, on foot), change their route or cancel unnecessary journeys.
What is the anticipated impact with regard to cutting pollutant emissions and reducing noise?
At the Sant Antoni Superblock, NO2 emissions in the green street of C/ Borrell have been cut by 33%, and noise is down by between 4 and 6dB depending on the time of day.
Are any other improvements to public transport planned?
The Urban Mobility Plan 2024 includes among its main objectives improvements to public transport, as well as its frequency and commercial speed: consolidation of the orthogonal bus network, connection of tram lines, completion of metro Line 9, etc.
How many parking spaces will be lost?
The number of registered vehicles in city neighbourhoods which have a permanent parking space in the street is only around 8-12%. The rest park off the roads, in underground car parking (public or private). In the case of L’Eixample there is also a significant excess in off-street parking places in underground car parks. The effects on car parking resulting from the implementation of green streets represent an average reduction of 1% in on-street parking, meaning the overall change is of minor significance. Working towards a city with more and better public space for pedestrians also means progressively reducing on-street parking (cars and scooters), and thus decreasing the traffic caused by drivers searching for these spaces.
Less traffic means fewer vehicles in my street and makes my commercial establishment less visible.
In the urban fabric, physical barriers formed by rows of parked vehicles and traffic impede visibility and good access to the shops which line the streets. The proximity of shops to soft mobility streets (on foot, bicycle, etc.) where there are none of these barriers, and one can walk freely from side to side, encourages commercial visibility. Pedestrianisation experiences around the world show that traffic-calming measures increase this visibility and, at the same time, improve comfort levels for pedestrians, leading to a direct increase in footfall and the success of local businesses.
If we reduce parking, my customers won’t be able to park.
At present, less than 5% of customers at commercial premises in L’Eixample access them by car. Either way, off-street parking spaces are available which enable customers to park and make their way around shopping districts easily. If a customer needs to pick up a product with their car, the design of green streets will allow for occasional loading and unloading for goods vehicles and private vehicles alike.
Urban goods distribution (DUM)
Where will delivery drivers load and unload?
The loading and unloading activities of hauliers and couriers will be allowed in the green streets during certain hours (which will not coincide with the times with the highest numbers of pedestrians) and the current loading and unloading areas will be maintained, located in other streets, with a more extensive schedule than the current one (8am-8pm). The overall supply of spaces-times for the delivery of goods in the city will be maintained and improved, in many cases, reducing the distance to the destination.
Persones amb visió reduïda
People with visual impairment
Green streets should have curbless paving to improve accessibility for everybody, with ridged paving and tenji blocks in different colours for the safety and orientation of people with visual impairment. The strips of space right in front of building façades will be reserved exclusively for pedestrian access and free of obstacles and other uses.
The neighbourhood will be full of tourists, bars and eateries.
The measures linked to the Superblocks programme (green streets and squares) come with a usage plan to safeguard against excess concentrations of the same type of establishment.
If we create new squares, they’ll fill up with young people binge drinking.
The increase in traffic-calmed areas in the city such as green streets tends to reduce the pressure from intense use of the few existing public spaces, in turn reducing concentrated use and recurrent anti-social uses in specific places.
If we create more spaces, they’ll be full of bar and restaurant terraces.
Physical elements are planned (tables, benches, springs, games, planted parterres) to protect rest and recreation areas, limiting and determining the space available for terraces.
So, space for existing terraces will be eliminated?
No. Existing terraces will be respected, but there may be slight changes to their locations so that they fit in with the new street layout and are compatible with other uses.
Where will spaces for terraces go?
As in other parts of the city, spaces set aside for terraces can be shared and provide service to businesses at various points in the street, meaning they may correspond to premises which are not located just in front of the terrace space.
Improvements to space generate price hikes for housing and commercial premises.
One of the main things which drives gentrification processes is differentiation between areas and neighbourhoods. In this regard, with the aim of promoting equality and balance and avoiding concentrations and excessive, localised price increases, the Barcelona Superblock Programme proposes the following lines of action: Uniform distribution of improvements to avoid differences which could cause tensions in the property market, ensuring that all streets, whether or not they are green streets, have characteristics that are attractive for residents; and the Usage Plans in the commercial context. Furthermore, the introduction of new urban planning instruments is being trialled to create a stock of public housing and social housing wherever possible, associating increases in buildability (renovations) with destination and social housing.