Rome’s mayor Ignazio Marino is determined to clear the streets of cars, whatever the consequences.
Many major city mayors make their names with drastic new measures aimed at motorists. Ken Livingstone in London and Bertrand Delanoe in Paris are prime examples. The ambitious Ignazio Marino in Rome however could eclipse them both.
The undoubtedly brilliant former transplant surgeon – regularly photographed on his racing bike – has been busily banning cars from the streets as part of his plan to turn the city into a vast open air museum.
The particular target so far has been Via dei Fori Imperiali between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia.
Cars were banned permanently in August followed by all powered vehicles over Christmas and New Year.
You might recall that the original glittering launch of the all electric Formula E racing series was in Rome last December, on the road around the Colosseum in fact.
Since the new mayor’s election in June 2013, with 64% of the vote, Rome has dropped off the calendar. With Marino, it seems even environmentally friendly cars are politically incorrect.
Today (Monday 30 December) Marino has ‘ordered’ that certain vehicles be stopped from entering Rome’s Green Strip – Fascia Verde – a huge area inside the A90 great ring road.
To be fair, the affected vehicles are all older Euro 0 or 1 standard. Increasingly though, air quality laws are being used by politicians to get motorists to change their ways (see The Back Door to Car Bans). The speed limit will be cut to 70kmh on the Paris peripherique next week in a bid to reduce air pollution.
Last week the European Commission unveiled yet another crackdown on air quality and a new push to prosecute the seventeen countries already in court over air quality.
Leaving aside that a particularly great thing about the 2,000 year old Colosseum is how it works – or has worked – in a modern city, the presumably well meaning Marino seems to think this is the right time to stop Italians buying cars.
The last time so few cars were sold in Italy was 1966. Sales dipped again in November, down another 4%. At risk is the backbone of the Italian economy. The automotive sector historically contributes 10% of all government revenues.
God forbid Marino should ever be elected to run the country. The mass car market is one thing, but what about Ferrari and Lamborghini?
update: despite Mayorino’s best efforts, car sales rose 1.4% in December compared to the same month in 2012.