18 May 2020

Rome responds to COVID-19 with 150 kilometres of new cycle routes

ICLEI Members are taking on various initiatives to support their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. ICLEI Member Rome (Italy) is no exception: the Rome City Council recently approved the construction of 150 kilometers of temporary and permanent cycle routes on the city’s main streets and along other key routes to support physical distancing and safe mobility during the pandemic.

With the Italian capital only beginning to emerge from a long and intense lockdown, local authorities consider cycling an effective way for residents to remain mobile whilst adhering to the physical distancing rules in place to combat COVID-19.

These steps to support cycling have numerous benefits, as Virginia Raggi, Mayor of Rome attests, “by encouraging active mobility, we will be able to limit the use of cars and reduce the strain on public transport.”

In addition, the new cycling infrastructure should help create the interconnected transport network envisioned for the city in its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP). In fact, some of the routes were already foreseen in the city's SUMP.

Construction on the first route at the Piazzale Cina began on 7 May. New road markings indicate the cycle lane, which replaces what had previously been a car-only lane. Such simple and easy-to-implement methods enable the quick creation of a large network, which is crucial given the current situation's urgency. 

The plan also foresees an expanded role for cargobikes in the city's logistics system. Enrico Stefàno, President of Rome’s Mobility Commission, explains, “in phase two of our COVID-19 response, it has become more important to focus on sustainable mobility and cycling. [This] is the most effective, efficient and healthy way to complete many journeys made by people in Rome.”

Rome's work in the CIVITAS Handshake project played a crucial role in supporting their formulation of a so-called cycling emergency plan. Best practices learned from fellow Handshake cities informed practical implementation and inspired the overall vision.

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