The coronavirus has shaken up many aspects of our lives, but this trying time should also be seen as a window of opportunity to lay the ground for meaningful change within our current structures. Milan, for one, is definitely not missing this chance to redesign the city to the benefit of its inhabitants.
The northern Italian city is set to introduce one of Europe’s most ambitious schemes reallocating street space from cars to cycling and walking, in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Milan and the surrounding region of Lombardy are among the continent’s most polluted and have also been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. But as the city’s lockdown ensued, motor traffic congestion has dropped by 30-75%, and air pollution with it.
In an effort to fend off a resurgence in-car use once residents return to work, the city plans to transform 35km (22 miles) of streets over the summer, with a rapid, experimental citywide expansion of cycling and walking space to protect residents as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
The Strade Aperte plan includes low-cost temporary cycle lanes, new and widened pavements, 30kph (20mph) speed limits, and pedestrian and cyclist priority streets.
Given that Milan is one month ahead of other world cities in the trajectory of the pandemic, it has the opportunity to provide a roadmap for other cities to follow and improve their liveability.