Thursday, August 27, 2009

urban design along Passeig de Colom, near Port Vell, Barcelona

Of course Barcelona was my first stop on my itinerary, and did not know what I might see else where. But in the end, I felt that Barcelona had the best urban design for the combination of pedestrians, bikes, scooters and car/buses.

This image below is a example of the small details that I saw. Here (at the waterfront) there is no curb or change in grade - the ground is level and easy to manuver as a pedestrian or on a bike. To define the edges where cars travel, blocks are laid down to create an edge, but with gaps.

The roads along the water front could have been ridiculously congested and loud. There are still about 10 lanes of traffic but roughly every 2 lanes has a different height. The one immediately adjacent to the park will take scooters, beside that are two lanes that take cars, buses and trucks and it is lowered into the ground. Beside those two lanes are two others for traffic heading in the opposite direction and they are covered overhead by the road above.

There are generous pedestrian walkways to span the many lanes of traffic and the are more than simply utilitarian structures. I was there late in the day and all of the water front was quiet. The sound of traffic was allieviated somewhat by the design, because 10 lanes of traffic otherwise would have been deafening so close to a sidewalk & park.

Above is the road that carried traffic over two lanes below. This had two lanes of traffic in each direction, divided by a wide center median that had a bike lane and plenty of space for pedestrians to feel comfortable walking along. And even then, the sidewalks near the buildings were wide enough to have outdoor seating along them.

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