Milan paying cyclists to head to work

Milan wants to curb pollution after being named the most polluted city in all of Europe in 2008. Photo: Courtesy of Angelo Amboldi/Flickr

The cycling movement can now consider itself fashionable: In an effort to clean up its terrible air-pollution problems, the Italian fashion capital of Milan is looking to pay its citizens to stay out of their cars and take their bicycles to work.

The program comes as the result of a $37 million government fund that was implemented in December to help start sustainable-mobility solutions to combat pollution troubles within the country. In 2008, as reported by The Telegraph, Milan was ranked as the most polluted city in Europe.

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And while the city has already taken steps to fortify its biking presence (most notably by starting the BikeMi bike-sharing system in 2008), Milanese officials hope to further incentivize residents to hop on their bicycles by padding their pockets.

Milan paying cyclists to head to work

The BikeMi program has been successful in getting people to bike throughout Milan. Photo: Courtesy of Emiliano Felicissimo/Flickr

“Reimburse those who go to work by bike; a project similar to the one in France,” Milan’s councilor for mobility, Pierfrancesco Maran, told The Guardian when asked how the effort would be implemented.

The French pilot program he is referring to took place in 2014 and paid cyclists a total of 25 euro cents for every kilometer they biked. That program ultimately converted five percent of 10,000 commuters to cycling.

In order to track the distance traveled by bikers, Maran proposed a tracking app that would log all the time cyclists spend on their bike.

“The software exists; it’s not 100 percent flawless but no one’s thinking of giving large sums,” he told The Guardian.

But critics of the proposed program say that it isn’t enough to simply pay cyclists a small sum of money. Citing the relatively middling results of the French pilot program, they say they want Milan to increase the number of bike lanes and overall safety for cyclists in the city to improve its viability.

“If you don’t provide a safe cycling environment, you will only get a very small group of people,” Ralph Buehler, an associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech, told The Guardian. “Just paying people alone will not have that much of an effect.”

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