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Milan begins ambitious transition away from car use

Date: 05-May-20
Author: Liam Taylor

Milan is introducing the Strade Aperte plan, meaning 'open streets', to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

Milan is introducing the Strade Aperte plan, meaning 'open streets', to reduce traffic congestion in the city.

The famous city of Milan in northern Italy is turning challenge to opportunity in response to the coronavirus, launching plans to transform the city towards cycling and pedestrian use.

Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy has long struggled to deal with traffic congestion and associated air quality and was named as the nation’s sixth most polluted city just last year. Since coronavirus caused a nationwide lockdown, motor traffic congestion has dropped between 30-75% in the city.

Air quality has improved in response and authorities are hoping to avoid a return to heavy car use as residents begin to return to work. The Strade Aperte plan announced last month includes provisions for low-cost temporary cycle lanes, new and widened pavements, 30 km per hour speed limits, and pedestrian and cyclist priority streets. 

“We worked for years to reduce car use. If everybody drives a car, there is no space for people, there is no space to move, there is no space for commercial activities outside the shops,” Marco Granelli, a deputy mayor of Milan, told The Guardian.

“Of course, we want to reopen the economy, but we think we should do it on a different basis from before. We think we have to reimagine Milan in the new situation.”

As a relatively small but densely populated city where the average commute is less than 4km total, making the switch from motor vehicles to public and active modes of transport in Milan easier than it would be in more widely sprawling cities such as we have in Australia. However, city planners will undoubtedly be looking at Milan (and other areas of Europe acting in a similar manner) to get pointers on how we could potentially reset our own cities.

 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.



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