I travelled to Barcelona on vacation, which is a city in Spain. What deeply inspired me was a pedestrian street — the La Rambla. The pedestrian street is very beautiful. There are various buildings and churches on both sides of the street. If you are tired on the pedestrian street, there are various diets to rest. There are many traditional flower shops. Although the weather is cold, it still smells like flowers (Figure 1).
Figure 1 La Rambla, Barcelona
The concept of modern urbanism is gradually catching up with many European cities including Barcelona, which is set to undergo a significant planning change. The overall plan is to create space for pedestrians as part of a larger plan to integrate more cycling, walking and using the tram to commute into the city. This would discourage private vehicles from entering the city, subsequently reducing the congestion levels and traffic within the city centre.
The La Rambla, one of Barcelona’s most iconic tourist attractions, will be one of the main city symbols which will be fundamental in the redevelopment process. The La Rambla is a 1.2-kilometre tree-lined pedestrian street which receives at least 100 million visitors annually. This attractive and unique feature is at the heart of the city, so it would be a great source of an impact since it already encourages walking within the city centre. The Rambla is a host to many activities, including walking along the street, including on top of the Miro Mural whose architecture was a creation of famous artist Joan Miro. The streets are also filled with human statues who look mimic inanimate objects but actually come to life and perform tricks. People can also cycle freely in this distance; the Mattia 46 is a bike rental shop. There is a big grocery market, several cafes and restaurants, as well as, an art gallery (Figure 2). This project is set to expand and create even more space for a pedestrian to walk on.
Figure 2 Mercat de la Boqueria
Another part of the project is the creation of a wider bicycle lane such that at least 62 kilometres of the city’ path is designated for bicycles. The Barcelona city planning stakeholders have agreed on at least 30 new lanes for bicycles which will increase the currently allocated space by at least 44%. This would be a significant achievement in regard to the set target of having at least 308 kilometres designated to bicycle lanes.
Despite the ambitious plans to create the increased pedestrian space, I am curious as to whether the city inhabitants are prepared for the changes that are about to take place. According to this concern, in the past two years, use of two-wheel transportation including the use of bicycles has only grown by 14% in the past two years which does not exactly align with the pressing need to expand bicycle lanes significantly. In spite of this, the general trend of eco transport is gaining ground not only in Europe but globally as nations seek ways of reducing pollution through the introduction of eco-friendly vehicles and encouraging eco-friendly energy sources.
I have an opinion that change in the mode of transport requires a change in attitude at the individual level. My opinion would be critical feasibility of such a project and an impact study to understand how different stakeholders would be affected.
Realtor, O. (2017). Barcelona city planning faces new pedestrianization projects. [Online]. Available from: https://www.oirealtor.com/blog/en/real-estate-industry/town-planning/city-planning-barcelona-pedestrianization/