Rome’s new mayor, Ignazio Marino, is making an early impact with the introduction of a traffic ban around the iconic Colosseum. Met with both celebrations and protests, the mayor has started by banning private vehicles and trucks from a portion of one of Rome’s busiest roads, Via dei Fori Imperiali. For the moment, buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and bicycles are still allowed, but the plans are to reduce traffic in the area by 90%.
In an effort to protect the decaying monument from pollution and harmful vibrations caused by heavy traffic, the ban came into effect on Saturday and was celebrated with an all-night street festival. Gathering public support will be important, as Marino’s vision is for the area to eventually become pedestrian-only.
In this report by AlJazeera, the mayor defends his decision, noting that if London, Washington DC or Paris had a world-famous 2000 year old monument, “they would not use it as a roundabout”.
Marino’s decision has been hailed as ‘historic’, as the City of Rome steps up plans to protect the drawcard that brings more than 6 million tourists a year. For those inconvenienced by the changes, Marino’s comments are unapologetic, “I believe we have a responsibility to keep the richness of history for the entire human kind – it is more important than a shortcut.”