How to live in the city of 30: the case of Bologna

From January 16, 2024 Bologna introduced a speed limit of 30 kilometers per hour on most of its city streets. The Emilian capital has become the 30th city and joined a European movement to make urban centers more safe, habitable AND sustainable. But why are more and more cities deciding to “slow down”? The decision to lower speed limits is driven by a number of key reasons, primarily road safety.

In recent years, Bologna has seen a significant increase in traffic accidents with injured people: IN 2022occurred in a metropolitan city 4,095 accidents386 more than in the previous year, p 56 dead. Most of them, around 72 percent, took place in an urban context, with more than half concentrated in the municipality of Bologna, where half of the deaths also occurred.

This data made it clear that this is something to think about preventive measures to increase safety motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, and the introduction of speed limits fits exactly into this context. The first statistics, two months after the introduction of the limit, are encouraging, as emphasized by the mayor of Bologna, Matteo Lepore: “We gave ourselves six months to have a minimum scientific data collection. But we have two months of indicators that already show a positive trend, for example a decrease in the number of accidents, a decrease in the number of pedestrians hit, both of which are around 15-20 percent (…) and above all, the severity of accidents has decreased. This is now a fairly clear indicator: in about two months, sixty fewer people went to the emergency room in serious conditions.”

But as he also explained to us Simona Larghetti councilor of the city of Bologna, founder and former president of the Salvaiciclisti-Bologna association and Bologna municipal bicycle consultancy from 2013 to 2021, in addition to improving safety, the new speed limit is part of a much broader strategy improve the quality of urban life.

A new way of living and thinking about the city

With safer streets and less traffic, Bologna hopes to encourage their use alternative means of transport such as bicycles, as well as increasing use public transport. A key element of this strategy is novelty tram project which integrates and improves existing public road transport in the urban area.

Currently, the city is intensifying work on construction of tram lineswhich should be completed by 2026. This project is actually part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr) and is managed in accordance with the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (Pums) of Metropolitan Bologna, which aims to transform the city Mobility by 2030 with the objectives , which include increasing the accessibility and safety of road traffic, improving the livability and quality of cities, as well as combating air and noise pollution and climate protection.

As he underlined into our microphones Sara Poluzzi, spokesperson for the Bologna 30 Committee, the city will see significant changes in road structures in the coming months to facilitate this new era of mobility. The reduction of speed in Bologna is therefore part of a wider approach to sustainable mobility, which is one of the main pillars of this initiative, which aims not only to reduce traffic accidents, but also to reduce traffic noise and harmful emissions, thereby contributing to the fight against air and noise pollution.

Bolognese reaction to the city 30

How they welcomed it transformation people in bologna? Many welcomed this innovation, appreciating the benefits in terms of security and viability, and on March 16 the associations that have always supported città 30 organized an event that was above all a great opportunity celebration.

On the other hand, other citizens have expressed themselves in recent months concerns about increased traffic and inefficiency in public transport. As Simona Larghetti pointed out, Bologna is in a phase change and is experiencing the beginning of a new way of thinking about the city, and often, as happens in these cases, there is some resistance to change. However, Mayor Matteo Lepore perceives that after the first weeks of adaptation, many Bolognese reconsidered their opinion: by experimenting with the new legislation, they recognized the feasibility and advantages of respecting the speed limit.

With safer streets and less traffic, Bologna hopes to encourage the use of alternative means of transport © LifeGate

According to Simona Larghetti, the concept of maintaining high speeds in the city often turns out to be utopia, considering that the average city speed is naturally low due to traffic and frequent stops. This observation confirms Visitor Index 2023, which highlights that already in 2023, the average speed of motorists in Bologna was 32 kilometers per hour. So the new speed limit appears to be in line with already existing travel times, showing that adapting to the changes could be less radical than some fear.

While we wait to understand how the situation will develop, the Bologna experiment is already emerging as an important case study for other Italian cities that are looking to the future of urban mobility with careful attention to sustainability and safety, and that have already introduced or are about to introduce large areas of the city 30 a.s Milan, Turnip, Barbel, Genoa AND Brescia.


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