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Barcelona's Ambitious Plan to Become a Post-Car City
"Barcelona's urban plan is the most ambitious thing going," according to this article by David Roberts. Those ambitions are defined on a global scale, and they center around a widespread expansion of the superblock concept that the country has been testing since 2016.
With this article, Roberts is launching a five-part series on the Urban Mobility Plan of Barcelona. Here's how Roberts describes the significance of the plan in the first article from the series:
The plan, which contains not only superblocks but comprehensive programs for green space, bicycle and bus networks, and much more, will not eliminate cars in the city, or deny one to anyone who needs one. But it will radically reduce their prevalence, the amount of space they occupy, and demand for their services. If it is fully implemented (a task that could take multiple administrations, even multiple generations), it could make Barcelona the first plausibly “post-car” major city in the world — a place where most streets are not for cars and most people don’t have one.
According to Roberts, Barcelona's new urban plan is a result of advocacy work and research by Salvador Rueda, founder of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona, and planner working in Barcelona in some capacity for 40 years. "Now his vision for the city has found its way into an urban plan that has the backing of the current municipal administration. It is currently being implemented, with the audacious goal of replicating Barcelona’s five existing superblocks, ahem, 495 more times," according to Roberts.
The article frames Barcelona's plan to expand its superblocks as a process of reclaiming the city from cars—a task that will challenge and likely revise the plan's ambitions on the way to completion. Similar significance has been discussed as a response to the idea of implementing forms of congestion pricing in Manhattan and other cities around the country. Still, this is a local story, and Barcelona unique situation could enable it to become the first post-car city, according to Roberts.