Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Romagna, surrounded by beautiful plains, hills, woods and the Apennines Mountains. The city has grown around a historic centre dating from the Middle Ages. The centre is characterised by very narrow streets with their famous arcades or porticoes. Even though this layout makes road space particularly cramped, the centre is still the focus of much public, commercial and cultural life.
In the past, the low capacity of the city centre has often led to heavy congestion that has compromised the quality of life in the historic city centre. The progressive introduction of traffic restrictions that started with the establishment of the historic centre as a Limited Traffic Zone (LTZ) in 1989 has considerably improved the situation. It has led to better air quality and helped to preserve the centre’s monumental attractiveness. Besides access restrictions, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) have further improved the transport situation in the city centre. For example, several pedestrian areas have been created in the historic city centre through the deployment of movable barriers. These can be lowered from a remote control room to allow deliveries to shops during certain times of the day or the transit of emergency vehicles.
In June 2007, the city approved the new Master Plan of Urban Traffic (PGTU). The plan is especially concerned with reducing pollution, noise, accidents and congestion, while saving energy. These critical issues affect citizens’ lives on a daily basis and have negative impacts on their health, safety and overall quality of life. The interlinked developments under the new PGTU have been intended to ensure sustainable mobility and accessibility to all parts of the city. This is being achieved through enhanced public transport and cycle lanes, while safeguarding the most valuable environmental and architectural areas.
Bologna is the main rail and highway junction in Italy and has a fast-growing international airport. Recently, Bologna has expanded the airport and has invested in a new train station with high speed tracks, a suburban railway network and an elevated monorail connecting the train station to the airport. The city hopes that the completion of the large-scale public works in progress together with a reorganisation of the public transport network will balance the modal share of car usage (between 28 to 33 percent) and approach a modal split of 33 percent. At the same time, the ambitious goal is to increase bicycle usage from 7 to 9 percent, which would make the modal share comparable to sustainability standards of other major European cities.
Through CIVITAS MIMOSA, Bologna acted as a pilot site to try innovative activities that has helped the city improving its urban transport system and has represented a valuable showcase for other medium-sized cities across Europe. The city’s efforts have already been recognised at the European Mobility Week (EMW) in 2011, when Bologna won the EMW for effort in promoting and investing in sustainable modes of transport. Bologna also won the CIVITAS Award for Technological Innovation in 2010 for the design of an intelligent transport system that integrates traffic monitoring and rule enforcement.
Demonstrating its commitment to a long-term strategy and concrete actions, the city set itself clear and measurable objectives and they have been achieved through the project. MIMOSA measures have contributed to an improved air quality with figures showing a decrease of -26 percent in PM2.5 and -18 percent PM10 within the city centre. Local Public Transport has advantaged through dedicated communication campaigns promoting new ticketing services and modalities, having the dedicated lanes more protected and timekeeping increased by means of ITS (that caused a massive 68 percent reduction in fines for illegal car parking) and improving the cleanliness of the fleet thanks to two very innovative hybrid vehicles introduced within the project. Also thanks to the CIVITAS MIMOSA measures' implementation, today in Bologna more than 16 percent of all cars circulating in the city are less pollutant. With the European target set at 10 percent, this represents a significant and real success for CIVITAS MIMOSA in Bologna. And other measures have been introduced to support and favour sustainable mobility in the city, favouring cyclists and pedestrians taking even care of their road safety. Indeed, the most impressive results obtained by CIVITAS MIMOSA in Bologna have been achieved thanks to the involvement of citizens and stakeholders in thinking and planning a new mobility for the city in a real bottom-up strategy. The enthusiastic feedback received by them has allowed the city to introduce (and then make stable) several ambitious solutions, like the T-Days when the three main streets in the city centre are exclusively opened to cyclists and pedestrians.