Bologna has become the first major Italian city to impose the limit on most streets, citing safety and livability. But it’s too slow for some: “A city has to move,” one cabby complained.
When Bologna became the first major Italian city to impose a speed limit of 30 kilometers, or 20 miles, an hour, Luca Mazzoli, a local taxi driver, posted a sign in his cab warning passengers of the change.
He had to, he said grumpily the other day, “to explain why I am driving so slowly.”
Since the limit became enforceable in mid-January, it has taken longer for Mr. Mazzoli to get from Point A to Point B, he claimed, meaning that he has picked up fewer passengers and has found himself stuck in traffic more often.
“A city has to move,” he said.
Critics of the measure say that Bologna risks slowing to a standstill since it became the first major Italian city to join a growing group of municipalities, including Amsterdam; Bilbao, Spain; Brussels; and Lyon, France, that have lowered speed limits from 50 kilometers per hour, about 30 miles per hour, in the belief that the change will lead to safer, healthier and more livable cities.
Bologna’s mayor, Matteo Lepore, included the new speed limit among the campaign promises that helped to get him elected in 2021. Referring to the lower limit, he said, “Driving at 30 is part of a vision of a more democratic and more sustainable use of public space,” where neighborhoods put children and older people first, and investments favor bike paths and public transportation to work toward carbon neutrality.
What’s more, he added during an interview in his art-filled office in City Hall, Italian cities had been built over centuries and were unsuited for a glut of automobiles.