Cool Walks App in Barcelona Marks the Shadiest Places to Walk

Beat the heat this summer!

A summer day in Barcelona.

(Evgeniia Primavera /

Which streets have more shade? Or a drinking fountain?  Now, residents in Barcelona have an app that can give you all the answers.

With the heatwaves in Spain this summer, Cool Walks can help walkers in Barcelona find the shadiest route between two places. The app is a routing tool for pedestrians, according to The Guardian, that shows users several routes to use when they want to go from home to the local market or anywhere else.

The app's users can find a shady route that may take additional time as they navigate tree-lined streets or they can use the “vampire mode” that avoids all sunlight. The app also finds public drinking fountains and sheltered places.

This app, that only mapped one neighborhood in Barcelona to date, uses a tool called Lidar to create a high resolution of ground elevation that is combined with sun data to figure out where the shady places are.

Marc Montlleo, director of environmental projects at Barcelona Regional, told The Guardian, We wanted to generate different options so you could pick faster or cooler routes and we calculated three different algorithms. The vampire mode was made from our team who had a lot of beer the night before. It was for a bit of fun to totally avoid sunlight.”

With the planet getting hotter, heat waves harm people more than any other climate risk. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 11,000 Americans died from heat-related causes since 1979. Some populations, like seniors over 65 or people with respiratory issues, are more susceptible to heat.

Today, according to Eco Watch, heatwaves affect 200 million people in more than 350 cities around the world. Barcelona is just one of them. If the Paris agreement’s 1.5 C climate change goal is not met, even more people will be impacted by the rising temperatures.

Barcelona is already working on ways to help mitigate the effects of global warming. The city created a 20-year Tree Master Plan, in 2017, to increase the proportion of land covered by trees from 25 percent to 35 percent and to provide residents with a green infrastructure and quality public spaces. Parks with trees are full of shade.

Trees and broader green infrastructure are the most advanced technology known for mitigating the impact of our densifying and rapidly heating cities. City leaders should make that their priority in the first instance,” Jon Burke, a former councilor for Hackney in London told The Guardian.

This app is a good way for people to be able to function in a hotter city while long-term solutions like tree planting, reducing the number of cars on the roads, and green infrastructure are being implemented. Every city around the globe should have one.

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