PT posted on an item on the Barcelona proposal to create “mini neighbourhoods around which traffic will flow, and in which spaces will be repurposed: The Transformation of Barcelona’s Eixample

The New York Times reports an update: What New York Can Learn From Barcelona’s ‘Superblocks’ 


Beginning in September, city officials started creating a system of so-called superblocks across the city that will severely limit vehicles as a way to reduce traffic and air pollution, use public space more efficiently and essentially make neighborhoods more pleasant.

Under the plan, the superblocks will be overlaid on the existing street grid, each one consisting of as many as nine contiguous blocks. Within each superblock, streets and intersections will be largely closed to traffic and used as community spaces such as plazas, playgrounds and gardens. Ms. Sanz said that at least five superblocks were expected to be designated by 2018.

bracelona-1 An intersection in El Poblenou, a section of Barcelona, that was transformed into a playground with a soccer field and sandbox.

Barcelona’s system of superblocks — called “superilles” in Catalan — would go well beyond the pedestrian plazas that have sprouted up on the streets of New York City. While those spaces have carved out more room for pedestrians in busy corridors, the superblocks represent a more radical approach that fundamentally challenges the notion that streets even belong to cars. …

Marta Louro, 40, a teacher who lives next to an intersection, said the superblock would make streets safer and reduce pollution. “It gives priority to the pedestrian,” she said. “I believe it’s very important that people have space.”

But others have expressed concerns that they will have to walk farther to a bus stop, or will have a harder time using their cars or finding parking. “It’s not a bad idea,” said Oriol Sanchez, 25, a waiter who drives to work. “But for me, it’s a problem for my car.”

Visitación Soria, 78, said the superblock would not be embraced by everyone. “People like their cars,” she said.“People are already saying there’s a problem finding parking, and this will make it worse.”

barcelona-2The plan for a superblock in the El Poblenou district

The superblocks are part of a comprehensive program to improve the city’s transportation networks and reduce their environmental impact, Ms. Sanz Cid said. The effort, called the Urban Mobility Plan, includes increasing bus service, extending train lines to the suburbs and tripling the number of bike lanes. …

In Gràcia, where more than two-thirds of the streets were turned into public spaces, car traffic has dropped to 81,514 trips annually from 95,889 before the superblocks were established. Street life is thriving: Pedestrians now make 201,843 trips annually through Gràcia, up 10 percent from before the superblocks. Cyclists make 10,143 trips annually, a 30 percent increase.