26 March 2012
1. What are the top 3 priorities in your city with regard to Sustainable Mobility?
The city of Bologna, as many cities in the northern part of Italy, suffers from the negative effects caused by traffic. Our chief problems are traffic congestion, pollution and road accidents. Sustainable mobility can help a lot in solving these problems. If I had to describe three priorities to support and promote sustainable mobility solutions I would indicate:
>> Raising citizens' awareness about the necessity to change their means of transport and opt for more efficient and less pollutant ones, such as cycling and walking.
>> Similarly, Bologna’s Municipality and transport providers need to strive to offer sustainable mobility services and opportunities that are as useful and attractive as possible.
>> To make this change possible, cities also have to involve citizens and stakeholders as much as possible in planning, designing and implementing any new mobility services.
2. What are the challenges in implementing those priorities?
In order to promote and support sustainable mobility solutions, cities have to deal with certain resistances and barriers that compromise these efforts.
>> Car Culture is our main challenge and creating a “Green Culture” is our next one. Over the years a negative habit regarding transport and mobility has been established in Italy and even Bologna: Car and private means of transport in general, are seen by many people as the first and often the only choice for getting from A to B.
>>The recession and resulting shortages in economic and personnel resources also represent a big obstacle in implementing infrastructures, actions and services adequate for the mobility needs of a city.
>> The need to inform, involve and raise awareness amongst citizens on sustainable modes of transport brings with it the challenge for cities to find the most effective resourceful communications.
3. What are the 3 major contributions that CIVITAS MIMOSA can make/has made to mobility in Bologna?
CIVITAS MIMOSA has exceeded Bologna’s expectations in terms of urban mobility benefits and advantages.
>> The opportunity to implement, demonstrate and test innovative mobility solutions in the city that are more efficient and less pollutant.
>> It has given us an international perspective by allowing the City and its mobility technicians to learn state of the art mobility practices implemented in other European cities, potential barriers and solutions. Even bad practices are important learning curves, since they can teach a lot about mistakes to be avoided.
>> The project allowed Bologna the opportunity to carry out communication and raise awareness campaigns to promote sustainable mobility in collaboration with more experienced partners. As a result, a greater citizens/stakeholder involvement and participation has been obtained.
4. What do you think of the EU Action Plan on Urban Mobility?
The European Action Plan represents an essential instrument for mobility planning, guidelines and common goals at European level.
5. What is your own personal pet cause? What are you championing at the moment?
As the new Mobility Councillor in the city of Bologna, together with colleagues and technicians from the City Hall, I am strongly committed to improving city life by creating a new way to move around the city: smarter and safer whilst using less energy polluting energy sources. Over the last few months several areas in the city centre have been completely pedestrianised and a new pedestrianisation action plan for the historic city centre has been launched. This project aims to revolutionise mobility in the city, giving priority to pedestrian orientated measures. Currently, we are running a kind of “Participated Project” in Bologna whereby citizens, stakeholders, associations meet together to speak about their ideas for a new city centre and give their contribution for the development of the new project.
6. If you could make a wish, how would you solve existing mobility problems in Bologna?
Negative effects on city life resulting from traffic calls for a new pathway for urban mobility. An adequate public transport system and infrastructure would reduce the number of cars circulating. Such a PT network would cover all areas of the city to guarantee high accessibility. It would also be integrated with other “smart mobility” means of transport such as cycling and walking. Unfortunately, the current financial and economic climate in Europe has affected the availability of funds and resources to build these important transport infrastructures. We are now having to find and carry out alternative mobility solutions and systems, the so-called “soft” measures, that can actually obtain optimum results and make considerable impact, without the need for big investments. I am speaking here of cycling and pedestrian mobility.
As I already mentioned, today the City of Bologna is committed to an ambitious plan entitled “A City Centre Again” to address several problems regarding accessibility and liveability in the city centre. New public space regulations and interventions will be introduced on the basis that pedestrians should enjoy top priority and need to be welcomed back to the city centre. The Plan, currently in the consultation stage, is being enriched with feedback from all stakeholders including shopkeepers, institutions, environmental and cyclist associations in a very open participatory process.
7. Who do you look up to? Who inspires you (in the area of Sustainable Development)?
I confess I am inspired by Mr. Guido Fanti, a Mayor of Bologna during the late sixties, who died just few weeks ago. In collaboration with the City Hall, he established the first pedestrianisation measure in the city in 1968. By doing this he proved to be extremely courageous and forward thinking in promoting sustainable mobility at a time when cultural resistances and barriers were very strong.
8. Is there a local hero in your city?
If one speaks about the city of Bologna and Europe, one automatically thinks of Professor Romano Prodi, ex-President of the European Commission, citizen of Bologna and well known enthusiast of the bicycle.
9. Would you recommend CIVITAS to other politicians? For what reasons?
The city of Bologna’s participation in the CIVITAS initiative has undoubtedly been extremely beneficial for Bologna in terms of raising awareness and the actual practice of sustainable mobility solutions. This is why I consider it really important for more and more cities to participate in the initiative.
10. What would you like the next generation of CIVITAS to focus on?
I think several aspects related to pedestrian mobility are often downsized even in the sustainable mobility framework: I am convinced that these topics should be considered more and enhanced. Take the issue of road safety, there is major room for progress here.