Barcelona’s Best Export Isn’t Tapas, It’s the ‘Ramblas’: Urban Boulevards of Oasis

I have a soft spot for the charming Mediterranean city of Barcelona, because it’s where I spent my junior year of university when I swapped New England’s Boston College for two semesters for Catalunya’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra.  And I realized in my last visit a few weeks ago that one of the most seductive traits of this high-quality of life city is it’s urban layout and specifically the ‘ramblas phenomenon.’ What is a rambla? Very simply a ‘rambla’ is an urban boulevard, which seamlessly blends together pedestrians, buses, taxis, cars and scooters in a safe, calm and very walkable layout, which has the feel of tying together the loose ends of a neighborhood: the sides-streets, alleys, passage-ways into an elegant boulevard for everyone in the city to use, tying together the city’s urban and social fiber into an urban pod of oasis. Roughly speaking this is what an rambla looks like if you are standing right in the middle, facing north and to your east and west you have the buildings and sidewalks of either side of the street. 1. the rambla: is a wide pavement in the center of the street like a 30-foot wide sidewalk.  Instead of having a huge urban boulevard with four car-lanes.  The rambla is the center point taking over 50% of the width of the street. 2. traffic lanes: then there are two traffic lanes, one one each of the rambla, the one to your east for example with one-lane of auto traffic: buses, taxis, scooters, cars – quietly (at 25mph or less) heading in the northbound direction AND on the other side of...