The decision by Bologna city council to implement a 30 km/h speed limit faced criticism on Friday from the transport and infrastructure ministry, led by Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini.
The ministry questioned the rationale behind the speed limit, expressing concerns that the potential problems for citizens, especially workers, may outweigh the purported benefits for road safety—a top priority for Minister Matteo Salvini.
The ministry declared its willingness to engage in discussions with the local council to explore “alternative solutions” and prevent potential legal challenges, citing the precedent set by Milan’s requirement for heavy goods vehicles to be equipped with blind spot devices.
The imposition of the 30 km/h limit has sparked discontent among certain drivers in the city. Mayor Matteo Lepore has already prohibited traffic around the city’s “leaning tower,” the Garisenda, amid concerns about the medieval structure’s stability.
Car protest on ‘D-day’
On what local newspapers have dubbed “D-day,” a procession of cars staged a protest, causing traffic disruptions. Taxi drivers, reacting to the slower speed requirement, threatened fare hikes. A planned drivers’ protest outside city hall, contingent on weather conditions, is set for Friday afternoon, while right-wing opponents of Lepore are considering a referendum on the subject.
The previous speed limit in Bologna was 50 km/h (31 mph). Bus drivers have expressed worries about potential disruptions to timetables, while others argue that the need to vigilantly monitor speedometers instead of the road could lead to an increase in accidents.
Bologna’s city administration drew inspiration from other European cities, such as Brussels, Paris, and Graz in Austria, where similar speed limits have been in place. London, for instance, has more than half of its roads with a 20 mph limit, equivalent to 32 km/h.
Proponents of Bologna’s initiative assert that motorists will gradually adapt to the change, as seen in other locations, and believe that the measure will eventually yield positive results over time.