There are plenty of reasons for major cities to go green: to adapt to climate change, to lower emissions, to tackle air pollution. In Barcelona, urban planners are motivated by an additional factor: A pilot scheme to tame traffic and create more green spaces across three neighborhoods has been shown to improve residents’ mental health.

As part of the Superilla (Superblocks) project starting in 2013, the city created a cluster of greener, quieter streets that are largely closed to through traffic and where residents can play and socialize. A survey found people reported better rest, increased socialization and less perceived noise and air pollution. They also indicated that the areas are quieter, more comfortable and safer, making it easier for them to interact with their neighbors.

Now, under an ambitious proposal known as Eixos Verds (Green Axis), the local government plans to extend the project across much of the city.

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