When Spain lifted its strict pandemic lockdown in the middle of last year, residents of Barcelona found some of their streets were not as they remembered them. The Consell de Cent, a broad street that runs through the city center, had lost two of its three car lanes to a widened sidewalk now painted yellow. More is to come under a plan to convert 21 streets totaling 33 km (20 miles) into pedestrian green spaces. Since March 2020, Barcelona has reclaimed around eight hectares of the cityscape from motor vehicles, transforming it into sidewalks, playgrounds, bike lanes or restaurant terraces, with authorities arguing that people need more space to avoid Covid-19. “The pandemic has functioned as a magnifying glass that has made us see that health should be one of the central aspects in the management and planning of the city,” said the city’s chief architect Xavi Matilla.

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