Car-free Sunday for smog-struck Milan

Milan's cathedral Milan is one of Europe's most polluted cities

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The northern Italian city of Milan banned all traffic from its streets for 10 hours on Sunday in an attempt to reduce smog.

The measure, first imposed on a trial basis in 2007, is triggered whenever pollution exceeds the statutory limit for 12 consecutive days.

Satellite imagery shows Milan to be one of the most polluted cities in Europe.

An estimated 120,000 vehicles will be affected by the move, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The most polluting vehicles have been banned from driving through the city centre since Thursday.

But on Sunday, there was no traffic between 0800 and 1800 local time (06:00-16:00 GMT).

The ban is imposed when pollution exceeds 50 micrograms of particulates per cubic metre of air over 12 days. The last time the full ban was in force was in February.

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The move is not popular with all environmentalists, who argue that the city's public transport system should be improved to discourage people from using their cars.

Local Green Party councillor Enrico Fedrighini said cars with three or four people inside should be offered free parking, for example.

"One or two car-free Sundays each month won't do anything to tackle the smog crisis," he told Corriere della Sera.

Public transport was to be bolstered during the day, with an extra metro trains and buses operating.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Secondly, Milan is in a part of Italy that is very flat and is enclosed by mountains all around the valley. This means that all exhaust gasses are trapped, particularly as there is hardly any wind to disperse the pollution. This is the reason for the smog levels being so high, as exhaust gasses remain where they were created - no matter what fuel is burned to drive the engine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Speaking as someone that actually lives in Milan, I would just like to clarify a couple of points.

    Firstly, the "no car" days are a regular occurrence here in Milano. They are not a new idea at all, as they have been taking place over the last 15 years or so.


  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Roll on peak oil

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Italian cities are famous for the rasp of Vespas as the locals use the agility of these machines to avoid congestion.

    What most people don't understand is that these machines can produce 100 times the pollution of a modern car. Most motorbikes don't have the catalytic converters or particulate traps fitted to modern cars.

    The solution is simple , ban the moped. But as Vespas are made in Milan ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Gas (LPG) is much much cleaner & also cheaper than petrol/diesel.

    By introducing a car gas conversion scheme we would greatly reduce poisonous emissions in our citys.
    Lower cost of gas also results in less imported oil, & reduces UK balance of payments, which at any time & especially right now is very important.
    Both old & new cars can be converted & percentage of ALL new cars should be gas

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    If it was cheaper to get around cities people might give up their cars. Public transport charges are far to high and services are poor, travel is essential, not a luxury - if the government hadn't privatised bus and tran networks we wouldnt get ripped off so badly. I would rather walk in the rain than pay £2 to travel a mile on a dirty bus!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    By merely walking in these areas we contribute to congestion of the walkways.

    By breathing in we deplete Oxygen levels and breathing out we contribute to Carbon Pollution.

    To paraphrase WW2 poster.

    Is your presence in these areas really necessary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    @20. John:

    You are right, if they could, they would but taking peoples cars away would appear rather unpopular, just look at the negative rating I got for suggesting that this would be a good idea in Britain.

    I had this colleague once. She was ever so proud that she had never walked to the convenience store at the top of her road. Says it all, doesn't it.

    Maybe put petrol up to £5 a litre.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    "Not fair on those who put up with public transport all week and only use their cars at the weekend. It would be more effective to stop the traffic on a weekday."

    What on earth makes you think people would use public transport 5 days a week and then drive *into* Milan at the weekend using their own car? It's almost an argument you've pulled out of thin air.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Band-aid on a bullet wound. The issue is that after decades of knowing that car engines cause pollution and that oil is finite, nothing has changed. Just turning the engines off for a few hours isn't going to do a thing, it's nothing more than a PR gesture to make the more perceptible members of society think that the problem is being solved.

    You can't end an illness by treating its symptoms.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I lived in London I had a 5 series BMW and a K1200 BMW bike... now I live in the mountains of the Basque Country, I have neither... and other than the thrill, I don't miss them... why is this?

    Because public transport is brilliant... even to the most remote places. It is very cheap, and very reliable.

    Last time in London, I could not believe how expensive it was to travel... incredible

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Lazyness is the main thing. I really believe if supermarkets widened the aisles and allowed drivers in they would flock there.
    My local Argos had to put a barrior up to stop people parking their cars against the sliding doors !!.
    I had digs in Chiswick for a few years and it was so easy to get the tube into central London

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Keep your Car, Wallet (Pocket Book), Payment / Credit Card and yourself out of areas that implement these policies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Good idea, not merely because of the smog reduction but even more so because it might lead to people rediscovering why evolution did give them two legs.

    They should introduce that in the worst effected town in Britain as well, I'm all for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    The biggest problem is however house heating. for Ethan Farber:polluting cars in Milan are already banned, or they have to pay a big ticket to enter (the ones older than 2006), here the cars are almost all recent, Lombardy is one of the richest regions in Europe, the only problem is that we can't use our taxes for our infrastructures because the central govt take them away for the other regions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The car is just a symptom of the problem....too many people in too small a space.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    I'm astounded at the utter laziness of Londoners with their cars.They'd rather sit in a queue moving at 3mph than walk anywhere.And their attitude towards cyclists is appalling. I sometimes think a £10 or even £15 gallon might be the answer to all of this.Most people do not need a car,they are just being lazy.(And I live in a very isolated area,and I don't need one)

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Diesel exhaust micro particulates are known to be a major health problem. The problem is a major problem in built up areas due to a lack of air movement. This is a problem in all urban environments. The mirco particulates do not settle out but remain airborne. There is prob correlation with breathing problems. It has nothing to do with population density. It is pollution density & built environs

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The fundamental problem is that Italian cars are old and dirty. California had this same problem until the state implemented relatively drastic emission regulations for cars and required frequent inspections. Of course in Italy with high corruption this is unlikely to work so well. But the fundamental fact remains that what must change, at least in the short run, is high-emission vehicles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I'm from near Milan, and let me say If our region, Lombardy, could use a bit of the 70 BILLion € (£ 60 Bn) it gives every year to the rest of italy to improve infrastructures and public transport, there wouldn't be all this pollution, with all those cars turned on in lanes (queues) for hours. But not if we remain part of italy, that doesn't care of the health of our child but only of our money.


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