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The Score

Despite Barcelona’s expanding network of bike lanes, traffic calming concepts, and an updated Bicing fleet, the Mediterranean city struggles to keep up with user demand and hold its spot in the Top 10. – James Thoem, Director at Copenhagenize

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The Lowdown

Despite a slip downwards in this year’s ranking, the Catalonian capital continues to serve as a model of urban mobility innovation. An expanding network and improved bike share scheme coupled with a willingness to experiment through pilot projects cements Barcelona into the top 20 for an eighth year in a row.

The recent updated Urban Mobility Plan strives to more than double their cycling network up to 308 km by the end of the year, up from 116 km in 2015. With this increase, Barcelona’s continually expanding network aims to reach the point where 89% of all residents live within 300 metres of a bike lane. The very fact that the city is thinking in these terms says a lot about how the bicycle is seen as a legitimate mode of transportation in Barcelona. And Bicing, the city’s pioneering bikeshare scheme, continues to expand, upgrade, and innovate with new sturdier and more efficient bikes.

Perhaps the most innovative traffic calming project in the last decade, the Superilla program (“Super Blocks”) has been implemented, measured, and tweaked to continually foster public life in the neighbourhood of El Poblenou. Learning from this innovative project, the city is looking to implement five Superillas by the end of the year.

The Fixes

While Barcelona continues to expand its cycling network, it’s time to focus in on consistent, comfortable and connected design standards to be followed across the city. Update and widen some of the older bicycle lanes and ditch the unintuitive lanes running along sidewalks and everyone will feel more comfortable. There are also still many gaps in the cycling network. Provide cycling routes along the coastline industrial area at the foot of Montjuïc and unlock a whole new potential for urban connectivity.