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Milan, one of Italy’s busiest cities, has proposed banning cars from its centre.
Mayor Giuseppe Sala wants to reduce pollution in the traffic-heavy metropolis of 1.4 million people and said similar measures would follow.
If it gets the green light, the measure will come into force in 2024.
Authorities will use surveillance cameras to enforce the ban.
Milan is one of the most polluted cities in Europe
Milan is one of Europe’s most polluted cities. It has poor air quality due to the volume of fine particles, the pollutant which poses a risk to human health.
The maximum level considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is a long-term average of no more than 5 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre).
Milan’s levels are almost four times the safe amount, at 19.7 μg/m3.
Milan to ban cars from the city centre
As part of a push to tackle the dangerous emission levels, Milan’s authorities have proposed a ban on private traffic in the city centre.
“It’s a small thing, but at the same time it’s a historic thing,” mayor Sala said during a festival to promote sustainability last week.
To enforce the ban, cameras will be installed along the Corso Venezia to record traffic and prevent entry to private cars.
Residents with a garage, anyone accessing car parking, taxis and public transport are exempt from the ban.
Those caught accessing the area unauthorised face a fine, though the mayor did not specify the sum.
The move will make some of Milan’s busiest areas more pedestrian-friendly, including the elegant Fashion Quadrilatero where many of the city’s high-end boutiques are located.
“We, like Milan, must be pioneers and have the courage and common sense to do things,” Sala told reporters at a climate change festival.
"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,” he added.
The mayor also suggested that there would be more reforms of this kind to follow.
He said many of the fashion houses in the area where the ban will be enforced backed his proposal and even suggested making the zone pedestrianised.
Milan car ban criticised as 'an absurdity'
Not everyone is in favour of the reform, however. In addition to traffic restrictions in large areas of the city, “Sala is now launching the idea of a Milan in which from 2024 no cars can circulate anymore," mayor of suburban ‘commune’ Sesto San Giovanni, Roberto Di Stefano, criticised.
He added that the measure was “an absurdity that penalises not only the Milanese but all the citizens of the outskirts, who are forced to commute every day.”
Stockholm bans cars from city centre
Milan is not the first European city to consider a car ban. Earlier this month, Stockholm announced plans to block petrol and diesel cars from entering the city centre.
The measure hopes to slash emissions and reduce pollution. The new rules will come into force on 31 December 2024.
Paris is also hoping to eliminate private vehicles from its historic centre by early 2024 ahead of the Olympic Games.
The move could see as many as 100,000 cars taken off the French capital’s roads daily.