If there is a place in the city that we need to be safe, healthy and livable, it is near schools. Our children deserve the very best city we can give them: one that is safe and fun, healthy and nurturing. Oddly however, street design near schools has not always been considered a top priority. Of course we might have special crosswalks or signs, but few cities have devoted programs specifically to re-think the urban spaces around schools.
In the last decade, this has started to change, with the development of School Street initiatives in cities in the UK, France and Colombia. In Barcelona, the initiative is called Protegim les Escoles (Let’s protect our schools), and this week the City of Barcelona announced which schools were selected as part of the 2021 cohort.
The program will consist of street calming, sidewalk extensions and in some cases the removal of vehicular lanes or the conversion of a chamfered corner within Cerda’s urban grid into a public space. With a budget of 5.4 million euros and aiming to reach over 60 schools, this program has the potential to create safer, healthier and more vibrant public spaces for our kids and their families. More details are available in the press release published on 20 February 2021.
What will be the environmental impacts of the program? Will the new public spaces be used? by whom? How can the program measure success?
I look forward to learning more about this exciting urban experiment to improve our city for our kids.