Barcelona’s Superilla (Superblocks) project began in 2013, when the city created a cluster of low-traffic mini-neighbourhoods with more space for planting and play areas. A subsequent survey found that nitrogen dioxide levels in the neighbourhoods had dropped by up to 25 percent, while residents reported “better rest, less perceived noise and air pollution and increased socialisation”.
Now the city is going one step further, with construction almost complete on the first part of a major project called Eixos Verds (Green Axis). The first scheme will connect five major streets in the city’s Cerdà area, turning them into tree-lined avenues with four new public squares at their intersections, reports New Scientist.
The aim is to transform part of the city from one dominated by cars to one with space for residents to stroll, play and rest. Throughout Eixos Verds, the squares and main streets will be largely pedestrianised, with vehicle access restricted to public transport and local residents’ cars - and plenty of new trees planted.
Work on the first four Eixos Verds streets is due to finish by the end of the month. Local elections loom, but if mayor Ada Colau retains her position, she has vowed to roll out the scheme to 20 more streets by 2030.
That would be good news for local air quality, summer temperatures and well-being, says Mark Nieuwenhuijsen at the Barcelona Institute of Global Health.