How is vehicle ownership set to change? Barcelona offers a glimpse of the future.
*photo courtesy of public space
If you were to accidentally stumble into one of Barcelona’s six Superblocks, you’d be in for a surprise. That road you were planning on driving down? It’s now a running track. Over there, the road has become a playground. Others are filled with trees, pedestrian thoroughfares and absolutely no cars or vans save for essential service vehicles, and even they are limited to 6mph.
This is the Barcelona of the future. There is car parking, but it’s underground. There are still cars in Barcelona, but they’re elsewhere, and with the programme set to rapidly expand, they could become an endangered species.
What’s more, it’s not just Barcelona. From Seattle to Edinburgh, many more of the world’s great cities are looking at what happens when you create a city that puts fresh air first.
You can find more about Barcelona’s plans in this BBC post. From our perspective as a car and van rental company, what’s interesting here is the direction of travel (no pun intended).
The natural travel choice
We often report on new initiatives that seem set to curb car ownership. This is another one. Live in a city centre with improving public transport and you are perhaps more likely to choose car rental as the sensible option for when you really need a car, and the bus, tram or train for every other time.
Live in a city where there’s simply nowhere to drive, and it turns ‘perhaps’ into ‘probably’. There’s still a need for cars. There’s definitely still a need for vans because you can’t deliver the stock for your store, or move to a new house or office by taking everything on the bus.
But what plans like this show is that the car and van will be pushed further towards the edges of cities. They may remain the natural choice for travel around or between cities, but they’ll cease to be the natural choice for travelling within them. The more Superblocks that are built on the Barcelona model, the stronger the case grows against car ownership, and the greater the case for making car and van rental the most popular way of enabling driving.