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Barcelona Will Supersize its Car-Free ‘Superblocks’

The Catalan capital’s celebrated pedestrian-first zones are expanding to cover most of the city center, Mayor Ada Colau announced. 

Pedestrian-first areas have proliferated around Barcelona since 2016. But the latest “superblock” plan involves a bigger part of the city. 

Pedestrian-first areas have proliferated around Barcelona since 2016. But the latest “superblock” plan involves a bigger part of the city. 

Photographer: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Since the Spanish city of Barcelona introduced its first “superblock” in 2016, the concept of carving out islands of car-free space by routing traffic around multi-block areas has been influential in cities around the world. Now the Catalan capital plans a major super-sizing of the idea: Over the next decade, Barcelona will convert its entire central grid into a greener, pedestrian-friendly area almost totally cleared of cars.

At a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Ada Colau announced that 21 streets in Barcelona’s Eixample district will become a kind of super-superblock — vehicle traffic will only be permitted around the perimeter, leaving streets within the district only accessible by motor vehicle to residents, essential services or deliveries. By all-but-barring cars, Barcelona will free up space for 21 new pedestrian plazas at intersections.