Milan at 30 per hour: from Brussels to Olbia, the other cities that set the example

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The European Union’s appeal had arrived in 2021: no more road deaths by 2050, almost three decades to work on a series of proposals and initiatives capable of making the so-called “Vision Zero” a reality. Among these, also the establishment and strengthening, in all EU Member States, of the so-called zones 30, i.e. zones in which the maximum permitted speed is 30 kilometers per hour. One of the most virtuous examples is Brussels, where the introduction of the limit on almost all the city’s roads has drastically reduced the number of road accidents, now Milan is also following in the wake.

The municipal council of the Lombard capital has in fact approved an agenda with the first signature of the councilor of the Sala List, Marco Mazzei, which commits the mayor Beppe Sala and the council to make the majority of city streets zone 30 starting from January 2024. The text, specifically, invites us to “proclaim Milan City 30, establishing the speed limit in urban areas at 30 kilometers per hour starting from 1 January 2024, as Paris and Brussels did”, and that on some selected high-speed roads there may be limits to 50 kilometers per hour. A choice that aims not only to ensure the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and the weakest sections of the road in general, but also to lower emissions with a lower environmental impact.

Why establish the 30 km limit in the city: the resolution of the European Union
«This agenda asks for something which in its simplicity has the potential to radically transform the city – Mazzei explained during the discussion – 30 km/h is not a random number, it is the speed at which an impact between a vehicle motorized and a pedestrian or a cyclist saves life, while 50 km/h are those where an impact is lethal or in any case has very serious consequences. If we know that the safe speed is 30 km/h, there is no reason in the world why we should think that this safety is guaranteed in some areas and not in others».

As mentioned, it was the European Union, in October 2021, that paved the way. MEPs had approved a resolution containing a series of proposals to make EU roads safer and achieve the goal of zero road deaths by 2050, recalling that every year around 22,700 people lose their lives and around 120,000 are seriously injured in road accidents.

Excessive speed is a key factor in about 30% of fatal road accidents, and an aggravating factor in most accidents. The invitation to the European Commission was therefore to draw up a recommendation for the introduction of speed limits of 30 km/h in residential areas and in areas with a high number of cyclists and pedestrians. Furthermore, to further promote safe use of the road, the deputies had called for zero tolerance for driving while intoxicated, underlining how alcohol is involved in approximately 25% of all deaths on the roads.

Cities at 30 per hour in Europe and Italy
The agenda, approved with the favorable opinion of the councilor for Mobility Arianna Censi, will have to pass before becoming a reality, but the direction now seems to be traced and follows what has already been done in other European cities. In addition to Brussels, which adopted the “City at 30 per hour” model already in January 2021, there are Paris (which did so in August of the same year), and then Helsinki, Valencia, Zurich, Lille and Bilbao, just to name a few. In others, the choice did not concern the whole city area, but only some districts: this is the case of London.

Even in Italy there are administrations that have already made this choice. The first was Olbia, which from 1 June 2021 became precisely “City 30”, and since then Bologna has been added to the list of those who have proclaimed their intention to follow the same strategy (which will become “City 30” from since June 2023), Turin (which despite having approved the agenda has not yet dictated precise times for implementation) and Parma, which has set 2024, like Milan, the year in which on the vast majority of city roads the limit of 30 km/h will be in force.

“By 2024 Parma will become a “City 30″. There are many reasons: more safety, less emissions, less noise and a more sustainable and aware way of moving around – Mayor Michele Guerra said in November – We will start from the historic center and the ‘Oltretorrente, completing the project by February next year and we will extend it to all the residential areas of the city within the ring road in 2024. We have made a clear choice: to improve livability in Parma, making it a city measured on the quality of life of its inhabitants”.

Even Rome, one of the busiest cities in Italy and Europe, has decided to follow the same path, even if to date no official measures or commitments have been reached in the Campidoglio. However, the Capitoline councilor for Mobility, Eugenio Patanè, confirmed that “the goal we have set ourselves, which fits precisely in the wake of the ‘Vision Zero’ program, is to reduce the deaths and injuries by 20% within 3 years and within 10 years by 50%” and that to do so “on secondary roads we should have speed limits of 30 kilometers per hour almost everywhere”.

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