What New York Can Learn From Barcelona’s ‘Superblocks’

The NY Times explores Barcelona’s new pedestrian plaza program and hallelujah if NY is playing attention.  The city has expanded their pedestrian plaza program (there are 53 plazas with 20 more planned), which expand the sidewalks, so to speak, in places like Times Square, but I don’t think there are any streets completely closed to traffic like these Barcelona streets are.  Why not?  The more places where people can walk freely, sit and have a cup of coffee, whatever, the better. Any disincentive to drive into t Manhattan is fine by me. I was completely fine with rejected ideas that would have banned all non-commercial traffic below 14th street.  I don’t hate cars, I own 3 of them, but owning or driving in Manhattan is c-razy!!  Manhattan is for walking and mass transit.

Also, it’s not a specifically foreign concept to shut down traffic on a street or multiple streets and turn them into pedestrian plazas.  The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica is just three city blocks shut down to car traffic and the upshot is (1) it’s a gathering mecca where carcentric Angelinos can enjoy getting out of their cars to shop, stroll or dine, and (2) it’s so successful that they gave it a name and made it an attraction.

The Barcelona concept is more expansive.  The Third Street Promenade does not shut down the avenues cutting through it.

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.

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Santa Monica

 

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