The Life-Sized City Blog: Living la Vida Liveable in Barcelona

I’ve embedded myself and my two children in the neighbourhood of Gracia, in Barcelona, for a couple of weeks. We’re living local in this densely-populated ‘hood and loving every minute of it. It is truly a prime example of a liveable neighbourhood, with priority for pedestrians and bicycles, 30 km/h zones and the whole Mediterranean feel. First matter of business was getting some bicycles and my good friends at Bike Gracia (formally BikeTech) have put a Bakfiets cargo bike at our disposal for the daily beach run - oh, and supermarket run and visiting friends runs.

It's about 5 km to the beaches we prefer and virtually the entire route features bicycle lanes or cycle tracks. On the first couple of days the kids - and the beach gear - shared the cargo box. Even riding back to Gracia up the hill was pretty straightforward with the precious cargo. It was made a bit easier when we got Felix a bicycle of his own. He is a Danish nine-year old after all so he's well-practiced in riding bicycles in cities.

I tweeted as such yesterday, but Liveable City Requirement #1 really is being able to ride around the city with my nine-year old on safe, separated infrastructure.

So far it's been back and forth to the beach each day but we do have other destinations on the agenda. And we'll need a break from the beach - it's bloody hard work body-surfing, building sandcastles, playing beach tennis and football, etc.

Wish I could nap on the way home, like Lulu-Sophia yesterday. But then my kids are used to napping in cargo bikes:

I've ridden a Bullitt in a number of cities - including New York and Tokyo - and the stares you get from passersby are always amazing. Even though Barcelona is really a bicycle-friendly city and the sight of a mum or dad with two kids on a bike with them is something you see all the time, the Bakfiets still raises eyebrows. People wave at us, smile at us, all through the city. Constanly. Lulu-Sophia thinks it's odd but we're working on getting her to wave back.

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