Rome to ban cars and scooters on Sunday as Italy’s cities fight smog

Rome’s first ‘eco-Sunday’ will also see mopeds and motorcycles banned from city streets, with only vehicles deemed environmentally-friendly exempt

Charlotte England
Saturday 10 December 2016 18:49
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The Mayor of Rome has placed a partial ban on vehicles in the Italian capital in an attempt to tackle the severe smog that has engulfed many of Italy’s major cities.

Sunday will be a semi-car free day in the metropolis, with stringent restrictions imposed on traffic and police instructed to fine anyone who flouts the ban.

The move comes after a period of unseasonably calm and dry weather has allowed pollution to build up and smog to settle over many parts of the country.

Nitrogen dioxide levels in Rome have soared to significantly higher levels than deemed safe by European Union standards, leading Mayor Virginia Raggi to announce the city's first “eco-Sunday” to be held on 11 December.

A note from the capital's City Hall warned residents: “Surveys have highlighted high pollution levels, and a critical situation which is expected to persist in the coming days".

Only vehicles deemed environmentally-friendly such as hybrids and electric cars will be exempt from the ban, running from 7.30am to 12.30pm and 4.30pm to 8.30pm tomorrow, with mopeds and motorcycles also ordered temporarily off the streets.

Councillors in Turin, a city in northern Italy, also voted to limit car use there, with the extent of the ban to be determined on Monday based on pollution levels over the weekend.

Environment councillor Stefania Giannuzzi said residents should use alternative transport whenever possible, even before the ban is officially put in place.

Milan is also looking at restricting traffic, with high levels of fine particle pollution recorded. But the city is yet to exceed the recommended maximum EU level for the seven consecutive days stipulated before they must act.

Air pollution levels have exceeded European limits for 62 days in Turin this year and 52 days in Milan.

Rossella Muroni, president of the Italian environmental association Legambiente, said politicians must act quickly to solve the problem.

“The causes of smog are known and there are solutions,” she told The Local. “We need a strong political will to put them in place.”

Milan and Rome also placed restrictions on car use last year, due to heavy smog.

Milan banned cars, motorcycles and scooters for six hours a day over a three day period in December 2015, while Rome banned cars with odd-numbered plates from driving for nine hours on one day, and cars with even-numbered plates for nine hours the next day.

The French cities of Paris and Lyon have also experienced dangerously high smog levels recently, with Paris making all public transport free in an attempt to encourage people not to drive in the capital.

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