Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Milan by bike

In honor of Wouter Weylandt, a few thoughts on cycling.

Milan gets better every time I come here. One of the happy new discoveries is a network of bicycle lanes in the city, like these on via Vittor Pisani. The benefits are clear: less fuel consumed and carbon produced, less air pollution, healthier citizens and a more accessible city. Good bike lanes - note how these are separated from traffic by a median and have their own crossings, away from pedestrians - are just a part of the solution.

Another promising addition to Milan's toolkit is the adoption of a limited traffic zone in the city center. Some trucks are prohibited entirely during certain hours, other cars and trucks are admitted to the center only by paying a toll. The streets are less congested as a result, pedestrians can move more easily, the vehicles that really need to be in the center - like ambulances - find their movement eased, and the air is considerably cleaner.

Another reason for the cleaner air is the widespread adoption of compressed natural gas buses and service vehicles, both in Milan and in Rome.

Great cities are rarely made ex-novo. They are adjusted, transformed, tweaked, and rejuvenated.

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