- Nowzar Hedayati
Back to the Future – Milan Edition
One of the things we all learnt from COVID-19, is to be more respectful of nature, and to be more caring towards the environment. We realized the large impact our actions have on the planet; how much the air and water pollution are decreased when we cut down on our daily activities.
Italy was one of the first countries hit by the virus and it experienced one of the hardest cases in the world. Northern Italy in particular was the epicentre.
During the lock down the city of Milan experienced 75% less traffic and a significant decrease in the use of public transportation. Milanese authorities saw this as a great opportunity to promote and invest heavily on new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
The city announced that 35 kilometre of car space, will be transformed into pedestrian and cycling lanes, throughout the city within the year 2020.
This was planned before the lock-down and the COVID-19, however it was scheduled to be done by 2030. But the municipality decided to expedite the plan and to carry it out in 2020. For Milan the future was now.
This is a very smart move for two reasons.
One: It can help kick start part of the bruised economy in the post COVID-19 financial situation and employ number of people.
Two: Due to people’s legitimate fear of using public transportation after the lockdown, this will promote the citizens to buy a bicycle rather than a car and to commute using the greenest form of transportation there is.
I lived, studied and worked in Milan for 4 years. I loved every minute of it, and it was a very exciting place to live. I remember friends who were cycling to university were always complaining about the lack of bicycle infrastructure and how difficult it was for them to bike through the Milanese traffic.
This project from Milan’s city hall can be a start of a new chapter for the city. It can be a beginning of a project to dedicate more bicycle lanes throughout the city. Milan’s geographical location and topography is perfect for biking. It has nice weather and it is flat. So, hopefully we will see more bicycle lanes in the city of Milan, and we can expect biking to become more stylish and chic in the city of fashion.