Milan plans to ban cars from city centre

By Annie Mellor

What’s going on here?

The busy Italian city may soon see cars banned from entering its city centre, in a move to improve air quality and make its streets more pedestrian-friendly. Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala hopes to bring the reform into force in 2024, if it gets the green light.

What does this mean?

The car ban would prevent some people from driving into the city centre. Taxis and public transport will still operate, and residents would still be able to drive to their homes inside the exclusion zone.

The mayor has already begun work to reduce the number of cars. In October, he brought in new traffic laws, banning the most polluting vehicles from a particularly congested zone of the city on weekdays.

Why should we care?

Milan is a highly congested city with the worst air quality in Europe. It has recorded levels of fine particulates almost four times over the safe limit. Closing the city to private traffic can help to improve air quality and make the streets safer and healthier for pedestrians and cyclists.

It’s just one of many European cities considering a similar car ban. Earlier this month, Stockholm announced its plans to keep petrol and diesel cars out of the centre. Many others, including Paris, Oslo and Madrid are working on plans to bring in car-free zones in their centres.

But these types of laws can be unpopular with residents and hard to enforce. Milan brought in a temporary car ban in 2020 to try and curb the smog, which is a recurring problem. But many ignored it, and hundreds of drivers received fines for breaking the ban within hours of it coming into effect.

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