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Rome: the battle between cars and public space

Italian cities are in general highy recognizble from the huge prescense of cars everywhere. The streets of cities like Rome, Milan or Napels are always so intensly invaded by cars, that it is not easy to walk freely, cross the road easy or meet people within this traffic jungle.
by Ivan Conte

 

Italian cities are in general highly recognizable from the huge presence of cars everywhere. The streets of cities like Rome, Milan or Naples are always so intensely invaded by cars, that it is not easy to walk freely, cross the road easy or meet people within this traffic jungle. Also due to the lack of efficient public transportation as of the right local policies, these major cities are becoming more and more unlivable for pedestrians. Rome is the absolute king in being the most car crowded city in Italy with an astonishing 695 cars per 1000 inhabitants. Apart from being an ecological disaster, it also complicates the daily life of it’s citizens. For instance a journey of one and a half hour, either by public transport or by car, will have a delay of at least 45 minutes. In this condition, public transportation is obviously unable to absorb people’s demand and it also doesn’t encourage to diminish traveling by car. Apart from huge traffic jams and congestion, there is another dilemma occurring in Rome which is the shortage of public spaces where people can socialize. It seems to be a matter of priorities rather than the lack of space.The whole area of Rome for example is 1285km2 whereas the city of Venice is 457km2. But while Venice offers its citizens 482m2 of pedestrian areas per 1000 inhabitants, Rome offers its citizens just 14m2. It is clearly not just a matter of liking or hating cars, but mainly a matter of democracy. Yet no article in the Constitution mentions the right to park or to have a car. On the whole, it is a complex issue involving several subjects bringing contrasting interests between citizens, local and central institutions and private subjects, such as the car industry. All of them are strongly interested in defending their profits, but how do cities manage this situation? And in what way do policies also meet or focus on basic needs that a sustainable city is supposed to respect? For instance, having less pollution should not be a privilege but also a human necessity. The same goes for public spaces: people have the right to meet, discover, face each other and enjoy these spaces in order to become more civil and tolerant. Therefore Rome as a city in which people can easily walk, bike and spend time together should not be an impossible dream but rather a right.

Don’t walk – Transito vietato ai pedoni

Film by Ivan Conte

Tekst edited by Peggy Vissers

About the author

Ivan Conte

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