Barcelona is looking to turn 60 percent of its streets into green spaces for pedestrians.
The city wants to start the project in Eixample, the neighborhood known for a grid layout that thrills tourists who’ve exhausted their map-reading skills. In Eixample, the city will cordon off “superblocks” where motorized traffic will prohibited, Curbed reports.
To further encourage traffic cuts, the city is also planning 186 miles of new bike lanes and a revamped bus network. "I’m already fantasizing with neighborhood-organized inflatable swimming pools in the summer," says Salvador Rueda, Barcelona's director of urban ecology, in an interview with The Guardian.
And it's not just about reducing car accidents or increasing tourism and quality-of-life. Barcelona, along with 35 municipalities in its surrounding area, have not been able to meet the EU’s targets for air quality, and this is a move the government hopes will curb air pollution, which The Guardian reports causes 3,500 premature deaths a year in Barcelona’s metropolitan area.
"As a Mediterranean city, its residents spend a long time on the streets–those streets need to be second homes, or extensions of one’s residence, at all times," Janet Sanz, a city official in charge of ecology, urbanism, and mobility, tells The Guardian. "Public spaces need to be spaces to play, where green is not an anecdote–where the neighborhood’s history and local life have a presence."