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Barcelona bans all vehicles by 2030

The Spanish metropolis is to become completely car-free in 10 years. This would give the city the strictest environmental zone in Europe.

The Catalan activist and newly elected mayor of the popular holiday metropolis Ada Colau wants to ban almost all cars from the city. By the year 2030, so-called super islands, or superilles, are to be created throughout the city. These are to turn intersections into green areas with playgrounds and seating areas. Access to these superilles would then only be allowed at walking speed for residents and would allow vans to enter at certain times. This would create more than 60,000 square metres of green space in the city.

For years, the metropolis has been overwhelmed by traffic, including the many tourists. The air quality is poor. The citizens of the city have only 6.6 square metres of green space at their disposal, in the city centre it is even only 1.85.
Ada Colau, together with a team of green politicians and urban planners, had already initiated far-reaching changes that would impose massive restrictions on motorists. With the slogan "Omplim de vida els carrers", "let's fill the streets with life", she wants to reconquer the streets. Thus, at the beginning of the year, the environmental zone already came into force in Barcelona, covering an area of 95 square kilometres and excluding petrol cars up to Euro 2 and diesel cars up to Euro 3. Fines of up to €500 will be imposed for breaching the rules, which apply from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week. In the course of the year, 60 secondary roads were then already car-free, and 30,000 square metres of new pedestrian areas and about 20 kilometres of new cycle paths were also created.

The first Superilles are already being tested, for example in the Poblenou district. Evaluations of the pilot project in this quarter show a reduction in traffic in the quarter, but also that through traffic is being shifted to a few streets. This could lead to major problems if many Superilles cause a concentration of traffic on a few streets.

However, Superilles are already popular with many citizens, as they add value to life in the green blocks. For others, the restrictions clearly go too far, as they restrict the freedom of citizens and tourists. One thing is certain, if the project is implemented as planned, not only will Barcelona's cityscape change dramatically, but air quality will also be improved.