With air quality high on the agenda for many countries, one Italian city could soon ban all cars.
Milan is one of the world’s most polluted cities, with nearly four times the recommended levels of pollutants. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers a long-term average of no more than 5 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter) as a safe level. To compare, Milan’s air contains a troubling 19.7 μg/m3, nearly four times the recommended threshold.
In light of this, Mayor Giuseppe Sala has pledged to ban all private cars, with some exceptions, from the city centre.
During a speech at a recent environmental festival, he said “It’s a small thing, but at the same time it’s a historic thing. It’s a small thing, but at the same time it’s a historic thing.
We, like Milan, must be pioneers and have the courage and common sense to do things. I am not an antagonist of capitalism, but honestly seeing the parade of supercars in the centre which they then can’t park can’t continue”
If approved, the restrictions could be effective as soon as 2024 and would be enforced using surveillance cameras. It could transform key areas of Milan into more pedestrian-friendly spaces, including the renowned Fashion Quadrilatero, home to the city’s upscale boutiques.
There would be some exceptions to the rule, including parking garages, people accessing parking facilities, taxis, and public transport. Anyone entering the area without authorised access could face a penalty, although the exact details haven’t been specified yet.
Milan is not the first European city to talk about a car ban. Stockholm recently announced similar plans to restrict petrol and diesel cars from its city centre starting in late 2024. Additionally, Paris is working towards banning all private vehicles from its historic centre by early 2024 to prepare for the Olympic Games. This could lead to a daily reduction of up to 100,000 cars on the city’s roads.