Imagine a city that is quiet, with only the noise of children playing and the sound of birds, no traffic, a lot of trees, and running tracks.
That’s what the city of Barcelona is planning to experiment with this year: A car-free smart city that bans the most heavily polluting vehicles from entering an urban area, thus becoming the largest low-emissions zone in southern Europe.
This low-emissions zone will reclaim the streets from the noise and pollution of traffic and aims to save hundreds of lives that might be lost because of polluted air. It complements the city’s so-called superblocks scheme
“We believe that technology has to be at the service of citizens to improve the quality of life in cities and not to create digital exclusion,” said the city’s commissioner for digital innovation, Michael Donaldson.
“Smart doesn’t just come from the intelligence provided by the technology but also from the citizens, their experience, their knowledge which can be gathered to make better public decisions.”
But some residents are opposed to the low-emissions zone plan, as they want to park their cars outside their homes, or think that it might affect their businesses. Others argue that this new plan might force them to buy newer, cleaner vehicles.
Janet Sanz, the deputy mayor in charge of mobility, denies all this and says that it will only encourage people to use the city’s excellent public transport system.
“It’s about the democracy of public space and public health,” she said. “It’s a combination of reducing pollution but reconfiguring public space so that everyone can enjoy it.”
Will this affect public transport tariffs and lead to the introduction of new regulations on delivery vehicles?