Barcelona's Superblocks can save lives and improve health
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Barcelona's Superblocks can save lives and improve health

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A new report has found that the “Superblocks” model of city planning used in Barcelona could save lives and increase life expectancy in the city as a result of improved population health.

The Barcelona Superblocks project was conceived to reclaim public space, reduce motorised transport, promote active mobility, green the city and help to cool the city. Superblocks comprise multiple city blocks joined together with their internal streets pedestrianised.

The report, carried out by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published in the Environment International journal, found that almost 700 premature deaths a year could be prevented if all 503 proposed Superblocks were to be rolled out across the city.

Of the estimated 667 premature deaths that could be prevented were all 503 proposed Superblocks to be implemented, most (291) would be attributable to reductions in nitrogen dioxide, followed by noise (163), heat (117) and green space development (60).

Furthermore, an average increase in life expectancy for the Barcelona adult population of 198 days is estimated due to the reductions in nitrogen dioxide, noise and heat, with almost 230,000 car and motorcycle trips being shifted to public transport, cycling or walking every weekday.

Measuring up to 400m (1,312ft) by 400m (1,312ft), Superblocks were found to help reduce people’s exposure to harmful environmental factors, while also increasing physical activity levels and access to green space. In addition, they were estimated to have a positive economic impact of 1.7 billion EUR.

The report concludes that: “The Barcelona Superblock model is a promising urban model as well as public health strategy to reclaim public space for people and help the city become cleaner, greener, more physically active and climate change resilient through the reconfiguration of urban and transport structures.”

It also suggested that other cities could benefit from implementing Superblocks in the same way that Barcelona has.

Three Superblocks have been rolled out so far in the neighbourhoods of Poblenou, Sant Antoni and Horta. To maximise their benefits, the ISGlobal report recommends that they are implemented consistently across the entire city.

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A new report has found that the “Superblocks” model of city planning used in Barcelona could save lives and increase life expectancy in the city as a result of improved population health.
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