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Italy offers city dwellers up to €500 to buy a new bike

Italy will pay people living in urban areas up to €500 towards a new bicycle as part of efforts to promote eco-friendly alternatives to public transport in the wake of the coronavirus.

Italy offers city dwellers up to €500 to buy a new bike
Cyclists in central Milan. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

People in towns and cities with 50,000 residents or more can claim back 60 percent of the cost of a new bike as part of a raft of stimulus measures aimed at 'relaunching' Italy as it seeks to exit the crisis.

The bonus, which is capped at €500, applies to electric bikes as well as scooters, Segways, hoverboards, monowheels and “shared mobility services for individual use” such as shared electric scooters, though not electric cars or car sharing.

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It will be available for vehicles bought between May 4th and December 31st 2020, and can only be claimed once.

At the moment, the bonus will be paid in the form of a reimbursement after purchase – so if you've just bought a new bike or are planning to imminently, make sure you keep hold of your receipt.

The government also plans to offer incentives to those scrapping cars and motorbikes this year and replacing them with sustainable vehicles or passes for public transport.


Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The scheme is part of a sweeping 'Relaunch Decree' announced on Wednesday night that also promises to extend cycle lanes and introduce new stop lines at traffic lights to allow cyclists to wait in front of motorists.

Milan has already announced plans to transform roads in its city centre, pledging to make some 35 kilometres more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians by adding bike lanes, widening pavements and lowering speed limits.

Rome too has said it will speed up plans to extend its bike paths, starting with an extra 25 kilometres of routes in residential areas outside the centre. 

READ ALSO: Rome 'among worst cities in Europe' for road safety, traffic and pollution

Italy's most ambitious cycling incentive to date comes from the city of Bari in Puglia, where the council has experimented with paying people 20 cents per kilometre they cycle to work or school

But overall Italian cities remain far behind many other towns in Europe for bike-friendliness, with Rome especially suffering from limited cycle lanes, heavy traffic and poorly maintained roads.

It's hoped that more people will take up cycling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as people are encouraged to avoid crowded, enclosed spaces like metros and buses.

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COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

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