We are promoting journeys on foot. Because walking is the most organic, universal method of transport that is hard-wired into all human beings.
Nearly half of all city residents get around the city on foot and we should remember that, regardless of how we usually travel, all of us walk somewhere at some point in the day. Furthermore, in light of our new needs, it helps us to maintain social distancing and the necessary hygiene measures.
Traffic must be calmed and the safe surface area for pedestrians must be increased in order to improve safety, air quality, health and community life.
What are we doing about it?
In the first phase, a tactical widening of pavements was carried out, enabling pedestrians to walk more safely. In order to achieve this, the number of traffic lanes was reduced to prioritise walking and pacify motor-vehicle traffic. This action has been taken in the streets of Consell de Cent, Girona and Rocafort, which now have a single traffic lane and wider pavements, as well as Via Laietana, where the pavements have also been widened.
In addition, at the crossroads of Rocafort and Consell de Cent, where two of the roads where interventions have taken place meet, the pavements have been widened, and a tactical operation has been carried out to make this intersection more visible and add new spaces for the general public. Vegetation, urban furniture and other leisure features to foster play have been introduced. The new configuration of the crossroads has also made it possible for pedestrians to cross more directly.
In the second phase, two new pavement-widening operations with tactical interventions will adapt another 2,850 square metres for pedestrians in: Ronda de la Universitat, with the tactical widening of both pavements, and Carrer de Pelai (between Ronda de la Universitat and Plaça de Catalunya), with the tactical widening of the seaward-side pavement.
The lanes are closed to traffic to provide a wider space for people travelling on foot, while also making it possible to respect social distancing.
A total of 12 kilometres and 30,000 square metres of motorised traffic has been closed off, through the pacification of the mountainward side of Avinguda Diagonal, between Passeig de Gràcia and Carrer de la Marina, the seaward side of Avinguda Diagonal, between Plaça de Francesc Macià and Passeig de Gràcia, and the seaward side of Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, between Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça de Tetuan.
In the first phase, and to deal with the city's progressive lifting of the restrictions, some streets have been closed to traffic until now in order to clear them for pedestrians and cyclists. These measures made it possible to increase the space reserved for pedestrians, so that the use of public spaces can gradually be resumed safely, respecting social distancing between people, following health recommendations and the criteria set by the administrative authorities.
The operation started with closing 44 streets to traffic in various city districts (priority was given to neighbourhoods with fewer safe spaces for walking and no access to large open areas or parks). This figure then increased to 60 streets (as of 12 June), which made it possible to allocate more than 21.3 kilometres and 85,300 square metres to pedestrians. The daily closures, from 9 am to 9 pm, are marked using signposted metal barriers placed at the start and end of each street and at each crossroads. Emergency vehicles, loading and unloading services and residents’ vehicles are allowed access.
Once the functioning of this network of safe pedestrian streets had been analysed, in the second phase, the maintenance and consolidation of the street closures that worked best were studied with the districts concerned. As a result, it has been agreed to maintain the barriers on a total of 34 streets, where it is planned to introduce vertical and horizontal signage prohibiting motorised traffic, except for access to car parks, which will be allowed, as well as access for service, goods and emergency vehicles.
This means that the restrictions on motor vehicles will be implemented in these Barcelona streets definitively, gaining 41,700 square metres of traffic lanes for the use of the general public.
In the first phase, from the weekend of 23 and 24 May to 27 and 28 June, the city gained seven large pacified areas, closed to traffic from 9 am to 9 pm, where people could do leisure activities and sport, while guaranteeing compliance with the measures and safety distances in force for public areas. These areas were: Montjuïc mountain; the Creu Coberta - Carretera de Sants main road (between Plaça d'Espanya and Carrer d'Arizala); Via Laietana (between Plaça d'Urquinaona and Plaça d'Antonio López); Gran de Gràcia (between Jardinets de Salvador Espriu and Plaça de Lesseps); the Passeig de Pi i Margall - Passeig de Sant Joan hub (between Ronda del Guinardó and Passeig de Lluís Companys); Passeig de Fabra i Puig - Rambla de l'Onze de Setembre (between the streets of Tajo and Del Segre), and Avinguda del Litoral (lateral lanes of the ring road, between the streets of Marina and Josep Pla, and parking spaces located between Nova Icària and Llevant).
In the second phase, Barcelona City Council plans to include some of the street closures enacted every weekend and public holiday during this period into the ‘Obrim Carrers’ [Opening Streets] programme, which will be working again in the autumn.
This means that some of the streets will be definitively included in the programme, with the aim of adding new places for the general public to enjoy at the weekend.
The planning took into account the type of street and its normal use:
- Via Laietana and the main road sections of Carretera de Sants - Creu Coberta and Passeig de Sant Joan - Pi i Margall will be closed to traffic every weekend.
- Gran de Gràcia and the Fabra i Puig - Onze de Setembre main road section will restrict traffic for one weekend a month.
- Carrer d'Aragó will be closed to traffic once every three months.
Barcelona City Council will adjust access for essential services and for services with specific needs in the traffic-restricted areas.
With the aim of freeing up pavements still more and facilitating journeys on foot, the City Council is simultaneously executing various phases of the campaign to free pavements of badly-parked motorbikes and promote parking in the approved places on roadways and underground car parks.