If you’re travelling to work by bike in the little town of Massarosa, in Tuscany, it isn’t just your health that will improve.
Massarosa lies between Lucca and Pisa. It only has 22,000 inhabitants so it’s hard to imagine that it has a traffic problem along the lines of the M25 around London. But the councillor for ‘slow transport’, Stefano Natali thinks traffic is a big problem and decided to try and solve it. His scheme, called ‘Bike to Work’, follows in the footsteps of similar projects already in place in other cities like Paris, where Ségolène Royal, the French Minister of Ecology, launched one in October.
Back to Italy though. Massarosa is the first Italian city to try the scheme and the local council hopes to invest 30,000 euros in the first year, using the money received from traffic enforcement. This money must be invested in road safety by law.
Only 50 people will be able to participate in the first step. They’ll need to download a free app, which will certify how many kilometres they’ve ridden each day and it will show that the bicycle has been used effectively to go to work. No other use is permitted if you want to be reimbursed. The Council will pay 0,25 cents (0.18p) per kilometre, with a cap of six euros per day and 50 euros per month.
The Bike to Work scheme is nothing new. In Belgium it’s been in place since 1997. In a recent TV program the mayor of Massarosa, Franco Mungai, admitted they have copied the idea from other European cities. ‘Good managers copy good ideas, that’s what it’s all about’, he says. He thinks all cities should adopt similar measures to curb traffic and pollution.