The pandemic has entirely remapped our lives and priorities and the way we travel has been particularly affected. Some go so far as to see a silver lining in the increased interest for sustainable mobility that has sparked around the world. In Italy, this could be said to be a first: urban mobility in most of the Country has been far from sustainable until now, with most small cities and towns relying predominantly on private cars, and public transport only covering the main metropolitan areas. All this is set to change as sustainable mobility is endorsed as a safer, easier and cheaper alternative. From purchase incentives for bikes to corporate initiatives for scooters, things are changing rapidly and the new normal looks greener by the day.
Purchase incentives during the Covid emergency
When the initial lockdown was eased, the Italian government approved a bicycle purchase incentive, to encourage a safe alternative to public transport other than private vehicles. As trains and busses were increasingly perceived as potentially dangerous and made it hard to maintain social distancing, most people were reverting back to driving everywhere, which was inevitably going to impact both urban traffic and the environment. Incentives for two-wheelers such as bikes and scooters have had a positive impact on both fronts and they are considered to be an investment in healthcare, as they encourage a more healthy and active lifestyle.
Companies can make a difference in the shift towards sustainable mobility
When we think of general concepts like a “green revolution” or a “shift towards sustainability”, we rarely stop to think what they could actually look like. Who should bring about this sort of change? When it comes to sustainable mobility, companies can make a difference and take an active part in helping the country bounce back from the crisis. In fact, many companies are accepting the challenge and implementing policies to support sustainable mobility, guiding the choices of their employees, and encouraging them to bike rather than drive to work. Some Italian firms, for instance, have provided their employees with assisted cycling city bikes that can be used through a reservation system.
Trying not to “set fire to the boat”
Young environmental activist Greta Thunberg recently referred to our collective attitude towards climate change as “setting fire to the boat”. It is perhaps more evident than ever, at a time when we have had to slow down our relentless consumption of goods, that there are sustainable alternatives to our globalised lifestyle. To this end, several new consultancies in Italy are advising companies on how to implement sustainable mobility initiatives in the workplace and create bike-friendly environments. The short-term goal, of course, is the promotion of healthy habits and social-distancing to stop the spread of Covid-19. The long-term goal, is a global one, and it concerns the overall reduction of CO2 emissions in urban areas all over the Country.