On a hot summer day, a street without trees might feel 15 or 20 degrees hotter than a shaded street nearby. Now, residents and visitors to Barcelona can stay cool with an equally cool new app.
Most mapping tools are designed with drivers in mind but a new app from a public agency in Barcelona, called Cool Walks, is different, letting pedestrians choose the shadiest route between two points.
When someone uses the app to get walking directions, there’s an option to see the fastest route but the app also shows a shady alternative, and a third option called “vampire mode” that lets pedestrians completely avoid the sun - by mapping the shade from trees and buildings, hour by hour, as the position of the sun changes. As a further benefit, the app also shows the locations of drinking fountains and shelter along the route.
Even though Barcelona is embracing biodiversity and greening its streets at an impressive rate, eventually, in an ideal scenario, every street in every city will have enough shade that any route can work. But in the meantime, apps like this could help.