Lies and bike lanes in Milan

Milan went through 8 weeks of total Covid-19 lockdown, from March 8 to last Sunday, May 3rd. Did City Hall work on pop-up bicycle lanes in the meantime? Of course not.

But then it became cool. Bogotà was doing it, and Berlin, and Oakland was closing off streets to cars. Somebody got jealous. Milan told The Guardian they had a plan.

On April 21, The Guardian took the bait, well before Milan published their new plan for 35 kms 22 kms of bike lanes, on April 24, or the Strade Aperte plan, on April 30.

Apparently, the story was too good to pass. Or to check. The Irish Times, The Independent, CityLab, The Atlantic, Bloomberg, Fast Company and the BBC all fell for it.

A Lie Can Travel Halfway Around the World While the Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes

Jonathan Swift

Gisela Méndez, an architect and urbanist from Mexico City, discovered that a year earlier Milan’s mobility manager had promised, but not delivered, 85 kms of new bike lanes.

Disappointed, she published a post aptly titled El día que Milán engañó a todo el activismo ciclista mundial, or The day that Milan misled the whole world’s cycling activism.

I did some further research: on the left, you can see — in light blue, red and purple — the bikes lines approved in late 2018; on the right, what we are getting, in 2020.

What does the future hold for Milan?

More of the same — more cars! On the day after the article from The Guardian, the city of Milan put its congestion charge and its (formerly) restricted driving zones on hold.

It will be cars, rather than bicycles, that are and always will be welcome in this city.


Links to documents:

Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, 2018

Table 6 of the above mentioned plan

The New Bike Lanes Project, 2020

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