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Living Green

Bologna tops E.U. mobility awards for ‘car-free’ city weekend

The city of Bologna in Italy won the European Mobility Week Award 2011 for innovative programs that promoted clean alternatives to using cars, one of which was a "car-free" weekend right in their city center.

Bologna was awarded on Monday in a ceremony at the Brussels Musical Museum in Germany by European environment commissioner Janez Potocnik and commissioner for transport Siim Kallas.

The goal is to support and promote the transition toward low-carbon modes of transport. This edition of the European Mobility Week, held in September last year, is the tenth so far.

From September 17 to 18 last year, three central main streets in the city center of Bologna were opened only to pedestrians and cyclists, allowing people to experience a car-free existence and promote sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility.

Bologna also implemented more permanent measures to promote cleaner modes of transport, including building charge points for electric cars and a plan to extend the city's network of cycling paths to 130 kilometers.

Around 2,268 towns took part in the 2011 contest, implementing projects and activities to raise awareness and encourage their citizens to switch to clean transport.

Runners-up were Larnaca in Cyprus and the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

"With cities and their citizens increasingly suffering from congestion and pollution, there has never been a better time to switch from private cars to other means of transport," said Ms. Potocnik.

"Bologna, Larnaca and Zagreb have found creative ways to permanently make their transport infrastructure more sustainable. I hope they will inspire other cities to do the same."

Larnaca was cited for its long-term commitment to road space reallocation by transforming one of the roads in their central business district into a pedestrian street, and creating bicycle parking spaces and a bicycle bank to facilitate maintenance and reuse of bikes.

Zagreb featured an extensive set of urban planning measures and used opinion polls to collect valuable information on possibilities to improve its sustainable transport infrastructure and the quality of the 2011 event.

The next European Mobility Week 2012 will be held in September 16 to 22, under the theme "Moving in the Right Direction." – K.R. Jalbuena

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