After a succession of incidents, some of which were deadly, which sparked protests, the city of Milan is mandating that buses and trucks install blind spot sensors to limit the number of people killed or injured on the city’s roads while cycling or walking.
In addition, the Italian metropolitan area is tightening the restrictions of its congestion charge system to curb pollution and traffic to meet the requirements set by the European Union. The city’s air quality has consistently failed to meet these levels.
If they are not equipped with sensors, warning stickers, and beepers as required by the new regulations, vans, buses, and lorries will not be permitted in most parts of the city between the hours of Monday and Friday during working hours when the new laws go into effect on Monday.
For drivers to have time to get used to the new laws, a few temporary exemptions are in effect until 2024 or 2025.
Eleonora Ciscato, a university researcher who, like many other Milanese, started riding her bicycle more in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak, expressed her satisfaction with the implementation of the sensors but advocated for more restrictions on the use of automobiles.
“Riding a bicycle in this city is extremely risky because there are many hazards, including cobblestones and tram tracks, and the city was not planned with cyclists in mind.” “Add to that the heavy traffic and the high level of stress that motorists endure,” she told Reuters. “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
According to research conducted by Paolo Bozzuto, a professor of urban planning at Milan Polytechnic, the number of cycling accidents in Milan increased from 980-1,060 from 2014 to 2019 to 1,250 in 2021 and 1,467 in 2022.
In November, a young lad of 14 years old was struck and killed by a tram while cycling to school. This year, at least five more cyclists have lost their lives.
This week, Mayor Giuseppe Sala stated, “The problem is how to make cyclists safe, because my concern now is that in light of these tragedies, someone, perhaps even legitimately, may be afraid, and as a result, they may no longer use bicycles.” “The solution is to make cyclists safer,” the mayor added. “The problem is how to make cyclists safe.”
On the day of the demonstration, September 21, pro-cycling organizations demonstrated in four different locations, holding up posters and banners that read “Enough with deaths on the street,” “Peace on the road,” and “We want safety immediately.”
A ban on older diesel and gasoline cars will also be extended in Milan. This restriction is analogous to one that was supposed to take effect in the neighboring area of Piedmont but was postponed due to protests that led to an intervention by the government.
Milan and its surrounding region of Lombardy, as well as Piedmont, are all located in the Po Valley, one of Europe’s most polluted locations. As a result, the European Union Court of Justice ruled Italy systematically violated EU clean air rules in 2020.