The air in India is killing people and we need to take some really drastic action instead of some piecemeal moves which do nothing. But will we ever have the gumption to do what Barcelona is now planning to do?
Sick of the high levels of noise and air pollution, the city is planning to do what it had mooted way back in 1980s – get rid of cars.
This is not like banning cars but the city is building superblocks which makes navigating a car in that area pretty much impossible. What they do is group together nine city blocks and shut it down for traffic by putting plant pots and benches, bring in cycle lanes and paly areas, open up more for green spaces an replace many parking lots for seating areas. So you see, cars are not banned but these superblocks make it car unfriendly.
The city has put in six such blocks already and is planning on putting 11 more over the next couple of years. Its plan is to have 500 superblocks in some years from now.
Of course it faced immense criticism from residents as it cut down their access, parking and a hit on local businesses. But after a detailed public awareness program and starting it slow and steady, those who were most opposed are now among the most enthusiastic as they see how much it’s improved their quality of life, they want an even bigger block!
Well, this requires immense political will power and that is something which we do not have – economics is a priority so focus will remain in cars and less on people. All we can do is read about such movements happening across the world….