Could Spanish "Superblocks" make Belfast greener, quieter and a nicer place to be?


Could Spanish "Superblocks" make Belfast greener, quieter and a nicer place to be?

Slugger O'Toole

So much of our modern city space is dedicated to cars, the needs of the automobile taken priority in almost every city's layout. This causes pedestrians and cyclists to be pushed to narrow pavements and cycle lanes, both having to navigate through traffic  as they go. One alternative to this norm is the "Superblock" scheme currently being implemented across cities in Spain. You take an area of blocks and close off the inside to 'through' traffic i.e buses and big lorries or any vehicles that are trying to get from one side of town to the other. These vehicles then have to drive round the perimeter. Inside the superblock the speed limit is kept at 20 km/h and the junctions are closed off entirely. This leads to street space for markets and outdoors events where people can walk around without worrying about cars. 


In the Spanish city of Vitoria-Gasteiz superblocks have been in place since 2008. In the main superblock in the centre of town  noise levels dropped by the significant amount of 5.5 decibels. There was a 42 percent reduction in Nitrogen dioxide emissions and a 38 percent reduction in particle pollution in the air. Not only are the environmental benefits striking but these superblocks also seem to have a positive impact on the economy of the local area. As people walk through town rather than drive they are more likely to stop and spend money. This scheme has been so succesful throughout many parts of Spain that the country's second largest city, Barcelona, began widespread implementation of superblocks across the city. 


Full article: Slugger O'Toole