Milan’s pollution problem means people may get paid to cycle to work

In an effort to reduce pollution in the city, Milan could follow a French trial where commuters were paid to ride bikes to work rather than drive

Residents of Milan, Italy, could get paid to cycle to work to help combat the pollution problem in the city.

Milan, along with other cities in Italy, has recorded dangerous levels of pollution and the government are pumping in €35m (£27m) to help fund sustainable mobility solutions, such as riding to work.

The northern city already has plans for a bike sharing scheme, but councillor for mobility, Pierfrancesco Maran, believes Milan should recreate a French trial where thousands of employees were paid 25 cents for every kilometre they cycled to work.

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Currently, the small Tuscan town of Massarosa is piloting the idea, with around 50 people thought to be taking part, according to the Guardian, although a trial in Milan would have to be on a much larger scale.

Critics have said that the city needs to invest in better cycling infrastructure if it wants to attract more cycling commuters.

“If you don’t provide a safe cycling environment, you will only get a very small group of people,” said Ralph Buehler, associate professor in urban affairs and planning at Virginia Tech university. “Just paying people alone will not have that much of an effect, because you don’t get to that part of the population which are ‘enthusiastic but concerned’.”

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Other statistics have pointed out that few people cycle to work because it saves them money, with just six per cent of Copenhagen residents citing that as a reason. Fifty-six per cent said they did it because it was quicker and easier, according to figures from Copenhagenize Design Company, with 19 per cent doing it for the exercise benefits.

Just one per cent cited environmental concerns as the reason why they chose to ditch the car in favour of the bike, with Copenhaganize’s Mikael Colville-Andersen telling the Guardian: “Pollution creates an undesirable environment in a city, which doesn’t exactly encourage people to spend more time outdoors.

“Pay-to-bike schemes are a nice idea, but if the city is clogged with toxic emissions, telling people to get out and cycle in it is a bit ridiculous.”

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