Today, Via Paolo Sarpi in Milan, Italy became a ZTL or restricted traffic zone. This means that those who enter this street will be observed by cameras and will receive a fine if they are not authorised to pass along this street.
The instigation of this new restriction is for a trial period of six months, after which time it may become permanent, although nothing is certain, and the Paolo Sarpi street may even become fully pedestrianised.
Why is the implementation of yet another restricted traffic area significant? Well, it could spark riots, for one thing.
Milan’s Chinese Quarter
Via Paolo Sarpi, which is a stones throw from my house in Milan also happens to be the city’s Chinese quarter, and the area is dominated by shops and wholesale outlets run by those of Chinese origin.
Last year municipal police officers sparked a mini riot when they tried to fine one of the Chinese shop owners for something or other. There is some fear that this new attempt to cut down congestion may also lead to disorder caused by the area’s dominant Chinese population. A local representative of this Chinese community has warned that problems will arise.
Italian Shops are No More
Most Italian run shops have either closed down or moved to areas where they are more likely to find customers hunting for consumer goods, and not cheap clothing, accessories, toys, and shoes to stock market stalls.
It has to be said that this street is not the best place for wholesalers and at times it does become clogged up with delivery lorries and little chaps carting around goods on trolleys, much to the disdain of the zone’s Italian residents.
Hence the implementation of this new initiative. Indeed, today, day one of the trial scheme, the street was virtually free of traffic, and even a bus, the number 43 for those interested, has been redirected. This is a slight annoyance for me, as this bus no longer stops two steps from my house. On the bright side though, no buses passing along my street, Via G B Bertini, means less traffic noise, and, hopefully, less pollution. The buildings along this street may even remain free of the blackening effect which diesel fumes seem to have on stonework.
Milan’s municipal police are heavily on hand to monitor the effects of the inauguration of this new restricted traffic zone, and many were tied up apparently explaining to local residents how everything is going to work.
One thing which is going to happen is that fines will be issued right left and centre.
Fines, Right, Left and Centre
For those who accidentally, or not, enter Via Paolo Sarpi by vehicle, such incursions will cost 70 Euros, and if a vehicle is parked in the street, this will incur another fine of 36 Euros, meaning that drivers may end up with a 106 Euro fine if they drive along and then park in this street.
Initially confusion will probably reign, as nobody will know that they are entering one of these honey pot restricted traffic zones. Those from outside Milan who have perhaps come to visit relations or friends will be worse hit, and will not know about any traffic violations until a fine drops through their letter box some considerable time afterwards.
Foreigners beware! Otherwise we could end up with Paolo Sarpi ZTL fines, an unwelcome sequel to the now infamous on Blog from Italy, Pisa ZTL (read the main post and struggle through the 380+ comments – if you have the time).
To help people avoid this area, here is Via Paolo Sarpi in Milan on Google Maps.
However, it is not only unwary motorists who will have a fine time for the scheme also makes provision for the fining of those transporting goods along the footpaths outside the authorised times. Chinese chaps who continue wheeling trolley loads of boxes along the street may find themselves having to fork out 22 Euros for the privilege.
Already many of those transporting who knows what have resorted to using the zone’s side streets where possible.
If all goes well, and this is a big if, then the Paolo Sarpi street will become more liveable once more, and a few of the wholesale shops may decide to move on. In this case, some Italian shops may return to the area.
Should the street become fully pedestrianised, then local property prices will shoot up.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation, and reporting on any riots I happen to hear of too.