“Milan is to introduce one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis,” writes Laura Laker for The Guardian.
Italy has been pounded by the coronavirus pandemic – one of the hardest hit countries in the world. The Lombardy region, of which Milan is the capital, was at its epicenter. Milan, with 10 million inhabitants, is Italy’s second-largest city, and boast one of Europe’s largest urban economies – a manufacturing powerhouse and the business and financial engine of the country. But as a wealthy, industrial city, Milan is also one of Europe’s most polluted cities and that pollution may have been a contributing factor in the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.
During the lockdown, the global fashion went online, live-streaming its collections. Its normally busy and vibrant piazzas were deserted. Traffic congestion plummeted and air quality improved dramatically. Unexpectedly, after years of trying to reduce car use and it’s accompanying pollution, Covid-19 has given city officials a glimpse of what Milan might aspire to, traffic-free. Their hope is to encourage more people to leave their cars at home in their daily commute.
With that goal in mind, Milan announced The Strade Aperte (Open Roads) plan, not only to encourage more active modes of transport, but to make open spaces safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The experimental plan will transform 22 miles of roads into walking and cycling paths, including temporary cycling lanes, wider pavements, pedestrian- and cyclist-priority streets and a 20mph speed limit.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a fresh look at our streets and make sure that they are set to achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve,” responded Janette Sadik-Khan, former transportation commissioner for New York City. “I know we’ll be looking to Milan for guidance from New York City.”
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Image from PxHere, CC0 Public Domain