Facing a month-long stretch of pollution levels above a healthy threshold, the Italian cities of Milan and Rome have decided to implement a three-day ban on private car use. The ban will take place this week from Monday through Wednesday, during which time car use will not be permitted from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm. Vehicle pollution in the country has become more potent during a recent dry spell and accounts for an increased number in acute cardiovascular disease, according to the AP. The few days of nearly carless activity will hopefully provide some needed respite for residents.
The public has responded well to the ban, possibly in part due to the holiday vacation and business hiatuses. Milanese officials have also issued a special “anti-smog” discount for public transportation at just €1.50 per ticket. Rome is implementing an alternating schedule for drivers based on their license plate numbers and Florence is restricting access to its historic center until the year’s end.
Milan has acquired the worst reputation in the country for its vehicle pollution. It was even named Europe’s most polluted city in 2008 and this is not the first time transportation bans have been implemented to try and counteract the harmful effects of the smog. Public officials have faced scrutiny that the seemingly sporadic bans are not enough to effectively combat the problem. The European Environment Agency cites 84,000 deaths in Italy in the year 2012 associated with poor air quality, showing just how important immediate action is in the area. While the transportation ban can be effective in the short-term, it seems it is only part of the larger equation to combat air pollution.