Mark Nieuwenhuijsen in Barcelona

Welcome to this special episode, in which it’s just Laura, her suitcase and one amazing guest, sat on a bench in the middle of one of the city’s famous Superblocks.

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In late 2023 Laura travelled to Barcelona by train from London. She was curious about the superblocks programme which involved some of the city’s streets being pedestrianised, leaving others as thoroughfares for motor traffic, and introducing things like greenspace and seating to the inner roads. Starting in 2022, streets in the Eixample district were transformed for walking and cycling, with a focus on cutting air pollution, overheating in summer and improving accessibility.

On those streets, people can still drive in and out, but through traffic is discouraged. While I was there I met Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, a researcher and professor in urban and transport planning, environment and health, and Director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative, and Head of the Climate, Air Pollution, Nature and Urban Health at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. Mark has quantified, in his research, the toll poor urban and transport planning has on the environment and health - and some of it is pretty scary. Mark was a delight to interview and I’m excited to share this episode with you.

You can find some of Mark Nieuwenhuijsen’s research here:

Street pedestrianization in urban districts: Economic impacts in Spanish cities  

Superblocks’ impact on health, local climate and economy 

PASTA research

Mark's current research can be found here

About the current Superblocks 

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This episode was edited by Clare Mansell

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