MobilitAria 2019: mobility on foot and by bike grows

The number of cars in circulation is also growing. Turin takes the 2018 wooden spoon for air quality in Italy. 

Presented today in Rome was “MobilitAria 2019”, a study by Kyoto Club and the Italian National Research Council’s Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research (CNR-IIA) in collaboration with OPMUS ISFORT. The aim is to outline a framework on the trend of air quality and urban mobility policies in the fourteen main Italian cities and metropolitan areas throughout the 2017-2018 period.

Rome, 17 April 2019

A slight improvement in air quality but regulatory limits in cities continue to be overshot. There is an increase in travel via active mobility on foot and by bicycle as public transport holds steady but the number of cars and motorcycles in the cities and metropolitan areas is still growing. Overall, the sustainable urban mobility for large cities has not seen major improvements throughout 2017 and 2018.

This is the main data contained in the second “MobilitAria 2019” report that analyses the 14 metropolitan cities of Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Messina, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Turin and Venice.

As regards air quality, the study shows an improvement that nonetheless does not certify compliance with the regulatory limits laid out in the European Directive for all cities. In the air quality assessment, the report considers the three particulate pollutants (PM10 and PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

Specifically, there is a reduction in average NO2 levels, with some cities in decline - such as Messina (-23%), Cagliari (-21%), Rome (-12%), Turin (-12%) and Bologna (-11%). On the contrary, Reggio Calabria and Catania exceeded the values. Amongst the cities to have exceeded the limits in 2018 are Milan, Rome and Turin.

Whilst the average concentrations of PM10 have generally been below the limits, several cities have exceeded the daily caps, which should not go beyond 35 excesses per year. Amongst these, the worst during 2018 was Turin (89 days) followed by Milan (79 days), Venice (63 days), Naples (40 days) Cagliari (49 days). Due to the continuous exceeding of the regulatory limits of PM10, Italy has been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to take adequate measures to combat air pollution.

From the point of view of urban mobility, the report analyses what has occurred within these two years at an urban, regional and national level, with various measures and investments. Consolidated for the Zone a Traffico Limitato (the Limited Traffic Zones) are the ZTL of Palermo, Florence’s ZTL summer regulations and the Area B in Milan where two-thirds of the city will gradually eliminate most polluting vehicles. Remaining stable throughout the two-year period were pedestrian areas and cycle paths. In October 2018, traffic blocks in the cities of the Po basin came into operation on the basis of the agreement entered into between the Regions and the Ministry of the Environment. For the use of Trasporto Pubblico Urbano (TPL - being Urban Public Transport), there was an increase in Bologna (+18%), Turin (+12%) and Cagliari (+9%) whilst the wooden spoon goes to Catania (-10%). Sharing mobility grows in Milan, Turin, Florence, Rome, Palermo and Cagliari, reaching Bologna for the first time, whilst not taking off in other cities. As to the negative figures: after years in constant decline, the motorisation index of cars in 2017-2018 went up once again in both cities and metropolitan areas. Turin is the worst (+5% to 674 vehicles/1,000 inhabitants), followed by Bologna (+3% to 531 vehicles/1,000 inhabitants).

“In these two years, we have seen a slight improvement in air quality but the Italian cities and regions are too slow in taking action with regard to traffic problems and congestion. On the one hand, active mobility and public transport has improved in central areas but in metropolitan areas, the car continues to be the most-used vehicle,” said Anna Donati, coordinator of Kyoto Club’s working group on sustainable mobility, and Francesco Petracchini, CNR-IIA researcher. “This is where we need to invest more with measures and resources at a national level aimed at sustainable mobility.”

“The train, as an ecological means of transport par excellence, allows for a significant reduction in pollution,” says Orazio Iacono, CEO and General Manager of Trenitalia. “In 2018, people who chose the train instead of the car helped reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by more than two million tonnes. Our current fleet confirms our focus on the environment. The Frecciarossa 1000 is the first high-speed train to have obtained environmental impact certification and is built with materials with a recycling potential nearing 100%. To buy the new regional Rock and Pop trains, recyclable up to 97% with a 30% reduction in energy consumption compared to previous trains, we use green bonds, being sustainable finance instruments.”

The Report contains unpublished data from the OPMUS-ISFORT observatory on the 2016-2017 mobility characteristics in the 14 metropolitan areas, compared with the years 2012-13. A leap in mobility on foot and by bicycle has emerged along with the maintenance of public transport and a decline in car use, which nonetheless largely remains the preferred medium for metropolitan citizens for over 50% of journeys. OPMUS ISFORT introduces the sustainable mobility tax, determined by adding up low-impact travel (by foot, on bikes and local public transport) in urban areas. This rate is below 40%, both for the metropolitan and national average. In 2016-2017, the index grew by almost 8 points nationwide and about 5.5 points in metropolitan areas compared to 2012-2013. 

The metropolitan area of Milan - a city that confirms its innovative capacity - tops the ranking with a sustainable mobility rate of just below 50% (48.3%), followed by Genoa (46.7%), Venice (46, 4%) and Bari (44.1%). At the bottom of the classification come Catania, Reggio Calabria - which still improved - and Messina. 

“An analysis of the data shows that there are significant differences in the mobility patterns expressed between the individual metropolitan areas both in terms of intensity and characteristics of demand, especially when it comes to the use of means of transport. The Metropolitan Cities of the North (+ Florence), albeit with special exceptions and specificities, are moving towards a more sustainable transport organisation overall, whilst those of the South (+ Rome) appear late, even if there are no shortage of interesting situations for a strong recovery,” says ISFORT’s Director of Research, Carlo Carminucci. “The other significant general figure that emerges, albeit not so obvious, is the homogeneity of the indicators of metropolitan cities with the national averages, as if there was no specificity of the metro area compared to the demand for mobility and the choice of means of transport. This signifies that these areas that are so relevant to the development of the country must accelerate the transition to a more sustainable mobility model, positively initiated in recent years but still too weak and intermittent.”

In the last part of the report, Kyoto Club and CNR-IIA present several proposals for improving air quality and sustainable mobility, including: increasing the number of control units to better monitor air quality, approve a new traffic code, introduce guidelines for Regional Air Quality Plans, monitor the Piano Urbano della Mobilità Sostenibile (PUMS - the Urban Sustainable Mobility Plan) that all metropolitan cities must approve shortly. In addition, precise targets by 2025 were defined for the increase of collective transport, pedestrian and cycling mobility and sharing mobility, whilst simultaneously reducing the use of private vehicles. As for electric vehicles, it is proposed that as of 2030, no more fossil-fuel vehicles shall be sold in Italy but shall aim towards cars, motorcycles and public transport being entirely electric. 

“The National Energy and Climate Plan presented by the Government is too hesitant and deficient even regarding transport,” declared Francesco Ferrante, Vice-president of the Kyoto Club, “to achieve the planned 33% greenhouse gas-reduction targets by 2030 and decarbonisation by 2050. In order to meet the objectives in the transport sector, we need to reduce emissions by 23.8 million tonnes in the next decade and by 76.8 million tonnes by 2050. This is an immense challenge that is indeed inadequate in the PNEC and we hope that the current discourse shall change.”