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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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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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