Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Barcelona: sustainable strategies and the attitudes of decision makers

The examination question will almost certainly be based on people or groups who are against the sustainable management schemes. The notes below cover only the common objections.

The key decision makers have been the members of the socialist Barcelona Council who have been immensely energized since the end of the Franco dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in 1977. The same Council has governed the city continuously since then, providing strong leadership and stability, enabling the development of a vision which has dramatically improved the standard of living in Catalonia.

Council attitudes:

• to create an urban environment that provides the best quality of life possible for present and future citizens

• pride in the city and its people

• a competitive resolve to outshine Madrid

Sustainable Strategies Problems/Objections
• Traffic management and Pedestrianisation schemes

• Create loading and unloading problems for businesses

• Loss of trade particularly for businesses selling heavy goods that require car parking nearby

• Pedestrianisation schemes outside of the central area involve too much walking and discourage shoppers e.g. Raval Rambla


• Ronda de Dalt and Ronda Littoral outer ring road motorways provide a bypass for through-traffic and reduce cross-city journies


• Traffic congestion increased in the suburbs close to the  motorway junctions
• Modern public transport system • Lack of inter-connections between the different forms of public transport

• Inaccessible to the handicapped

• Timetabling deficiencies


Cycle lanes and cycle parking

The take-up of cycling has been slow (less than 1% of all trips). This is largely because of:

 the hilly terrain, north of the city centre;

 the Mediterranean climate which, whilst favourable for walking, is often perceived as being too hot for cycling;

 a perception amongst Barcelonans that cycling is inconvenient and unsafe in heavy traffic, far more so than other European countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands; and

 a lack of investment, until the 1990s, in cycle lanes and cycle parking by the municipal authorities.


The covering of the Ronda de Mig Ring road. • This opened to protestors complaining about the construction of a market on the new-found street surface and new council houses in the zone for young people and the elderly instead of leisure parks.


Bus lanes • Increase congestion for other road users


• Solar panels

• Increase the price of housing


Reuse of brownfield sites

• The cost of removing toxic substances from the sub-soil can add significantly to development costs.

• Redevelopment of brownfield sites has some negative effects:

   it leads to property speculation, where properties are bought cheaply, then left empty while the speculator waits for prices to increase before selling and making a large profit

   house prices increase beyond the reach of local people

   Redevelopment can change the social mix of the area and destroy existing communities


22@ High-Tech development

• Will provide jobs mainly for highly skilled workers and not for local people


Diagonal Mar

• People object to the 'americanisation' of Barcelona, with the high-rise buildings and the new shopping mall