Poisons in the city


To do RESET we have to start with something. Letís start with what is round about us every day in our cities. From the poisons that we breathe.
For which we need to thank the media bosses. For their obsessive publicity for cars. The newspapers and the TV are in competition with Quattroruote {magazine dedicated to cars}.
Who dictates the petrol industry line to the media? The State that lives off the taxes on fuel, the oil companies and the car manufacturers. The politicians, as Mattei said, are only taxi drivers that pay themselves off with a tip after the journey. Whatís to be done?
Letís write a list of 12 commandments for the employee mayor. Letís ask for (and insist on getting it) a meeting so that he can sign all or some of the proposed points or even none of them if he doesnít agree. The meeting could be filmed and the reasoning of the employee could be heard on this blog.
I have listened to true experts about poisons in the city: two mothers with young babies. The ones that breathe in from their baby buggies the exhausts from the vehicles. Those that if all goes well get a chronic cough, and if it goes badly get leukaemia.

This is what they advise:
1 Entry tickets for cars
2 Cycle tracks for every route through the city
3 Step by step elimination of car parks in the city
4 Creation of green spaces where there are now car parks
5 Car sharing advertised and promoted by the local authorities
6 Electric buses and cars
7 Reduction of Ici {local tax on property} by 30% for those who donít own a car
8 Set waiting time at traffic lights for vehicles to be double that for pedestrians
9 Loading and unloading from 5 to 7 in the morning
10 Free public transport
11 Tax for the occupation of the public space for parked vehicles
12 Newly constructed public offices definitely with no car parks

Our cities are automobile cemeteries and gas dumps. Letís change them.

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I feel these 12 rules are a bit of a joke and will not be turned into reality anywhere in the world.

The constant battle against cars and cars ownership leaves me bemused.

Whatís wrong in owning a car? It is now morally wrong to own a product that pollutes, but this is just a technical issue. Just make cars that do not pollute and the problem is sorted without changing people lives. It is also unrealistic to expect the complete removal of cars from every city. There is indeed an entry ticket in London, for instance, but the traffic reduction is somehow irrelevant in comparison with the cost of setting up and running the whole Congestion Charge scheme.

The complete removal of parking spaces is again a bit unfair for those who maybe driving electric cars. And free public transport would be nice but is it possible?

Again 12 rules that are hardly applicable, but most important they fail to address the real issue.

We have pollution because we drive - inefficient polluting vehicles- but most of all because we DRIVE.

The vast majority of the city traffic is made up by commuters that leave home from 7am to 8am to go to work. This make the morning rush hour. At the end of the working day we have the evening rush hours with million commuters going home. The question is: Does everybody need to GO to work? Letís face it, most of employees work in a tight space and hardly need to interact with other employees.

But they still go through the daily early wake up-traffic-parking-traffic-late arrival home process. This is the traditional working process that started hundreds of years ago when peasants had to travel to the fields and later on labourers had to travel to the factories because they both had to put theirs hands into making something.

For many jobs we do not need to do that anymore. A banker does not need to transfer money manually; he or she does it with a PC. A call centre can be anywhere. A marketing company can be on the web and many IT jobs are done remotely already.

The point is that many many jobs can be done from home. And thatís the real deal. Working from home via internet, maybe using a virtual reality protocol or a simple webcam is the now overdue solution.

Think about the advantages!

Less working hours and flexible working hours. i.e more free time available

Less traffic, less congestion and less pollution.

More efficient use of your biggest investment. Your home!

Virtually no cost for transport.

Much lower structure cost for companies

And many more that will be hard to explain.

Battling against cars is like forcing your way through a perilous road that has a dead end. We need to evolve our working conditions and get to the next level. We really need to RESET.

Posted by: andrea ceccanti | August 10, 2007 07:23 PM


Read the position of each particular country
first and then we'll talk....

In the mean time the Nairobi conference is only a couple of days away.
Will those counties, highly educated, financially stable, less arrogant, mainly responsible for Global Warming, change their attitude???

I whole heartedly hope they do, but it remains to be seen...

Posted by: paola filinesi | November 2, 2006 12:06 AM

Go and read this www.corriere.it/Primo_Piano/Economia/2006/10_Ottobre/30/wwf.shtml and then tell me that you want time to educate people.
Act now that's already too late!

Posted by: Ritchie | October 30, 2006 09:33 AM

As I've already said
Two parallel lines will never meet..

As for arrogance I have only one way to answer this:

"America: the only country in the world where failing to promote yourself is regarded as being arrogant"
Garretson Beckman "Garry" Trudeau

Case dismissed...:o)

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 28, 2006 02:07 AM

In this century you relate to the rest of the world much more than only 10/20 years ago. You interact with it and so you cannot ignore how you look and what you want your "partners" to think of you. Your country has a rating that identify how reliable you are in commercial/political/economical/ethical issues (and not only that).What is the rating of the Bel Paese? Go and check. I forgot you don't care what it is because it's the least of your problem.
A little bit of humility and you'll already start changing your arrogant italian mentality.


Posted by: Ritchie | October 28, 2006 12:16 AM

I knew it Raffa...:o)))
x x x x

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 09:40 PM

I'm for the 2nd and the 4th too!
I don't believe in banning at all.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 27, 2006 09:33 PM

You are talking about freedom of choice comparing drinking to smoking.
You are free to walk into a bar and have as many drinks as you like, as a matter of fact kill yourself from cirrhosis and drinking is not banned.
You are not free to open a caffe or a restaurant only for smokers, or have smoking hotel rooms (where you could smoke without annoying anybody because there would never be enough rooms...).
Obviously nobody thought of that before introducing the banning law, because of course profit was in everybody's mind and in a "smoking" country those would be the most profitable places...So there goes the first argument.

Now come to changes...There are many ways to introduce changes similar to those mentioned bellow:
1) By Force
2) By Educating people
3) By Persuasion
4) By Reasoning

I think, and correct me if I am wrong, you are for the first and I am for the 2nd and 4th.
Yours and mine are parallel ways and they will never meet...:o)

As for the Italian mentality/image and what foreign people think about it, I believe this to be the least of Italy's problems...!!

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 09:26 PM

Ritchie, we are talking about the same things, but with other words!
I didn't said that the italian mentality is good, I was only trying to explain that every regulation is useful only if it's appropriate to the contest.
Anyway, I think that there is only a way to reach the goal: changing the mentality.
Banning is not effective.
I'm absolutely sure, but I'm a fervent anti-prohibitionist!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 27, 2006 08:26 PM

Laws are made to be broken?
This is the italian that should be RESET!
Any nation's mentality is different and difficult to change not only the italian one. The image given outside is that italians aren't good in making those changes. Italians chat, then shout, then abuse each others and that's how most of the chats end. Solving nothing!
People living in a Democracy are free to make choices. People are free to smoke if they want to. Their freedom ends when they are exposing others to their smoking habits. That's why the smoking ban is in place.
If we follow your ideas we should stop producing and selling wines, spirits, etc., shouldn't we?

The focus of this discussion is to start introducing drastic measures to tackle the polluted cities not waste years teaching a deaf to listen!

Get the congestion charge in!

Posted by: Ritchie | October 27, 2006 05:57 PM

If I may ask, and I really hope you will not misunderstand me....
Which side of you is Italian??
Please I repeat, donít take me wrong, but what you wrote as much as it is correct is far away from the Italian way of thinking...!!

As Raffa and myself said before Italian mentality is very different from the British one and not easily changed.

Laws are the same for every citizen but every citizen has a way to by pass them...after all
"laws are made to be broken"...:o))

Now, as far as smoking is concerned fist selling cigarettes should be stopped and then smoking them should be banned....
Because by banning smoking you are not really concerned about the health of the smoker but you are attacking the most vulnerable and easy target you can find.
You are not fighting the root of the problem and.....the streets will still be dirty no matter how many employees you have because they are still allowed to smoke in the street and buy sigarettes from the "tabacchi"...!!!

Think Green but also Think Italian...:o)

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 04:49 PM

First things first!
Your comment is implying there must be different rules for different people. I strongly disagree with that. Law must be the same for every citizen and every Italian should start thinking and acting upon this concept.
If you see someone breaking the law you must report it to the authorities. It's your duty as a citizen. In the same way, if you have been treated differently than the person that knows the friend of the friend you must report it to your mayor, the authorities, etc.
If everyone start doing that you will have started your mentality revolution.
I actually seem to remember that the smokers diminished with the smoking ban and anyway better some ash on the floor that your children passively smoking in a restaurant!
Furthermore The ash offers more work to the street cleaners and possibly more jobs offers. ;-)
Congestion Charge forever!

Posted by: Ritchie | October 27, 2006 03:00 PM

On a side note....
In most counties where smoking was banned, the number of smokers has been reduced dramatically;
In Italy the number increased and the city pavements have been converted into huge ashtrays...!!!!

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 01:23 PM

In my opinion Congestion Charges cannot be applied to Italian cities because of different city structure;not disregarding the fact that
it is creating problems for local businesses within the zones...(!)

Cycling lanes are different and they would indeed help a lot with air polution.

In Italy you have to work with mentality first,each population has its particular characteristics and obviously you have to work with what you have and try to adjust innovative ideas according to the people.

As an alternative of course, you can have a revolution...:o))

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 01:10 PM

I don't know what this "paying car parks" rule is but I think there are no exceptions in the smoking in public places law, aren't they? And it seems to work, or doesn't?
You don't ask, you just do it!
They haven't asked us before doing it in London....and they have recently expanded the area.
You do it for the bloody enviroment, you do it for our health. There are as many good reasons as for the cigarettes ban, if not more.
Think Green.

Posted by: Ritchie | October 27, 2006 12:44 PM

No Ritchie. it doesn't work like this!
We are talking about Italy, the country of way outs to evade the laws!
What do you think is happened after the introduction of paying car parks in the cities? Nothing is changed, there are still too many cars in the downtowns, and everybody is parking his car wherever him please, because everyone has a kind of special permission,(Italy is the country of strict rules and laws with too many exceptions) or knows somebody who knows somebody else who can lift the penalty.
We must think in practice, offering effective alternatives to private cars and about all changing the mentality. It will take a lot of time, but it's the only way.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 27, 2006 12:07 PM

Maybe I haven't been clear enough. Those "mamme" taking 16 yrs old to school will have to pay the Congestion Charge (if the school is within the zone) to take their kids to school. This should probably work for most, not for all, as a deterrent. Not everybody will want to pay Ä15/20 a day for the sake of taking their kids to school espescially if they are 16!
I think these kind of "cities entrance tickets" should be enforced sooner rather than later for the sake of our children health if not else! Let's find a way to force people to leave their cars home or, if they want to drive into the restricted cities areas, let's make them pay an expensive ticket. It would be unpopular for a while but soon we would see the effects. The cigarettes ban docet!
Furthermore I think it would be best to avoid picking up excuses that our cities are old and therefore is more difficult to plan properly bicycle lanes, etc.
Italian politicians think like that and look where the country is!!
Let's act!
Let's think green!

Posted by: Ritchie Tomadin | October 27, 2006 11:31 AM

Maybe I haven't been clear enough. Those "mamme" taking 16 yrs old to school will have to pay the Congestion Charge (if the school is within the zone) to take their kids to school. This should probably work for most, not for all, as a deterrent. Not everybody will want to pay Ä15/20 a day for the sake of taking their kids to school espescially if they are 16!
I think these kind of "cities entrance tickets" should be enforced sooner rather than later for the sake of our children health if not else! Let's find a way to force people to leave their cars home or, if they want to drive into the restricted cities areas, let's make them pay an expensive ticket. It would be unpopular for a while but soon we would see the effects. The cigarettes ban docet!
Furthermore I think it would be best to avoid picking up excuses that our cities are old and therefore is more difficult to plan properly bicycle lanes, etc.
Italian politicians think like that and look where the country is!!
Let's act!
Let's think green!

Posted by: Ritchie | October 27, 2006 11:30 AM

Dear Peppiniello...!!
From my region to Rome you take the train it's from Rome southwards that you have to take the camel....
If you are using "U' Ciuccio" you must be one of the priveledged one...!!! :o))))

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 27, 2006 05:17 AM

Peppiniello!!!!!! I missed you!!!!!!!
Welcome back!
You can ride... hem hem.....;-)LOL LOL LOL LOL!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 09:54 PM

If you guys from Rome ride a camel what can I ride in Naples?

U' Ciuccio?

Posted by: Peppiniello da Capua | October 26, 2006 08:48 PM

Yes Paola, that's what I mean!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 08:00 PM

That's a nice scheme you are referring to but I think that is not what Raffa means...
We are not talking about school buses but about private cars driven by "worried mums" who drive back and forth their children to school...!!!
These "children" could be as old as 16 years old but still their "mammas" insist on taking them to and picking them up from school.
That's what a big part of the traffic jam is due to...:o)

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 26, 2006 04:10 PM

School runs traffic is almost the same in every city. Let's start a serious Congestion Charge scheme like that one introduced by Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, for example. It must be a reasonably high charge otherwise will not work as a deterrent. I say Ä15 per car per day. The exceptions are for people living within the limited traffic zone, disables, Police, Ambulances and similar services.
Then use the money raised to improve an enhance the Public Transports, scrap the petrol buses and get more green engines, trams, etc. Provide a decent and safe ciclying paths like those in Munich for example.
The ciclying traffic increased by 50% since the Congestion Charged was introduced in London and the ciclying paths are nowhere near Munich.
This system is not the definite solution but it's a first working step towards the solution.
Start writing to your cities' mayors (Sindaci). If you all do that they'll suddendly start asking themselves what's going on? They must listen!
Think green.

Posted by: Ritchie Tomadin | October 26, 2006 02:59 PM

Form Pordenone to Rome was fine...there were even 1st and 2nd class to choose from..(!!!)

But from Rome to Naples...I cannot tell you....
A distance of 200km by car was transformed into a day long ordeal by train....

That's why I said most governments sadly believe that Rome lies in the "confini" of Africa and people should ride camels...WHAT A SHAME....

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 26, 2006 02:39 PM

Paola! From Pordenone to Naples by train?????
What a Nightmare!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 12:02 PM

By the way: reducing the pollution in the big cities of the world is very difficult.
The most of them are gigantic urban areas, with too much people living in there, who want (or must) to do the same things at the same time.
There are a lot of things to do, obviously in addition to improving the public transport, for example:
- Times differentiation: to decongest the incoming and outbound traffic around the cities.
- Developing of telework: this working modality may be extended to many kind of jobs, more than we think.
- as for Italy only: stopping to take the children by car to school, even if they are already 16 years old! This happens in Italy every day (you know, the italian "mammismo" !), you can notice the difference between the school year and the school holidays period, in the second one you need half time to drive everywhere!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 12:00 PM

I would not disagree that there are solutions that could solve at least basic air pollution problems.
However we cannot compare fairly recently established countries (like the USA, Brazil, Canada, Australia) with old European ones.
There are lots of obstacles from limited space to pre existing historic structures.

As the situation is at the moment, only limited structural intervention can be achieved. So we have to focus on other means to limit pollution.

Many of the ideas already expressed here could be applied if only the authorities had the guts to put them in practice and of course put personal benefits aside...!!!

You certainly know more about railroads than I do..:o)
I was only referring to my recent train experience from Pordenone - Venezia - Firenze - Roma -Priverno/Fossa Nova - Napoli...!!!

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 26, 2006 11:41 AM

Nick, you are right!
I needed 2 hours last sommer from Baltimore to Washington D.C. (45 miles). The Amtrak ticket costs only 19 $ but the most people are driving by car.
The Interstate Highways are very good and mostly four-lane, but they are congested anyway. Not to mention the beltways.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 11:21 AM

Giovanni, if you're looking for a good example for the use of railroads, the US is about as far from that as possible.

In fact, in the 1950's the car companies, GM, Ford, etc were found guilty of buying up the local railroads, trams, etc (they did so around 1910-1925), then letting them fall into disrepair to encourage the purchase of cars, buses, etc.

There are some decent long distance rails, but these are there only because a few companies found it useful to have them.

Where I live now, the buses run on methane, but it's an odd family that doesn't have 1 car, often 2.. These cities were not made for cars, we need more public transport, more bike lanes, and massive taxes on the people who want to still drive their cars in the city (those taxes will help pay for the public transport and bike lanes).

As I said earlier though, this would involve hardship for some people, and my lord, how the people here object to hardship or sacrifices.

Posted by: Nick W | October 26, 2006 10:28 AM

The problem of air pollution in major cities depends mainly on the combustion of hydrocarbons in private cars.

As Mr. Grillo has pointed out in the past, some viable alternatives could be effectively used (instead of burning hydrocarbons).

Unfortunately the planet geopolitics seem to force humanity to continue burning petrol (until its expected exhaustion, that is foreseen in some decades from now on).

For example, we have been told that cold fusion is 'moon-light', that it is not real. I would like to invite Italian speaking readers of this post to watch this excerpt of a RAITRE program:


You will easily see how positive experimental results un cold fusion (production of excess heat and He4 in water electrolysis), by ENEA researchers, appear to have been deliberately suppressed.

The question is: why?

My general answer is:

If you control the food you control the lives of people, if you control energy (that is, if you force everybody to depend on petrol or something else) you can manipulate the minds of people.

To me it seems that our brains are continuosly manipulated by some "secret society" that is actively planning and steering our coming transition to the after-petrol era.

God bless Grillo for his blog.

Posted by: Luca Cellai | October 26, 2006 08:47 AM

Vancouver: 2 million people spread everywhere.

1-cycling paths in every single roadway/highway
2-bus transit system excellent
3-w/ the skytrain (kind of subway/train) you go everywhere fast
4- bus running w/ biodiesel, hybrid, and 5 using hydrogen
5- bus cycles racks equipped
6- more parks then living human beings
7- Reserved lane for car pooling on biggest roadways
8- etc. etc. etc.

Everything it's possible when you plan in advance, nothing is possible when everything is already in place since 1945
... and when the politicians are the same of 1945 !!

Posted by: Edmondo D. | October 26, 2006 04:47 AM

Prince: I know very well the condition of the Lombardia's railroad system! I remember me in summer of 2003, when I took the train from Milan to Bergamo, without air conditioning and 40įC.It looked like a stock-car, a nightmarish trip, but.... I was happy anyway! ;-)))))))

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 26, 2006 12:54 AM

In North Italy the railroad system still sucks and you know why?

Because in Lombardia, where the freight traffic is most intense, the railroads are not developed to fill the logistic need generated by the industry.

40 years ago, in the province of Bergamo, the railroads that were running into the 2 valleys (Seriana and Brembana) had been removed because some moron thought that the future was in the transportation by truck.
Now, with the roads like 40 years ago and the traffic increased, to drive there is a nightmare because of trafic and pollution.

In USA there is the "SOO LINE", where you can see a convoy of 150 cars each one with 2 containers (one on top of the other), pulled by 4 or 5 Diesel locomotives (Clean Diesel by General Electric): 150 times 2 makes 300: 300 trucks less on the road just in that area.
You can multiply this number 3 times daily for all the 50 states and I bet that even by making a proportion with Italy, USA would win with its railroads because the choice has been made wisely.

And I'm not talking about high speed trains, just the ordinary ones.

In Italy our politicians want the TAV while they ignore the disastrous shape of our ordinary railroads.

You want to know why?

Because maybe there is not enough money to steal!

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | October 26, 2006 12:11 AM

Cycle tracks for every route through ALL THE BEL PAESE LONG!!!


Posted by: Daniele Pietrobono | October 25, 2006 11:50 PM

What about:
1) Re-introducing the "tram" and moving public offices in the suburbs

2) New technology cars, stricter regulations and frequent controls on car maintenance

3) Larger parking areas outside the cities and frequent public transportation from and to the centre

4) Cheaper taxi fares (!!)

5)Only average displacement (cc) cars allowed in city centres


7).... etc etc

Railroads are fine from Rome and upwards... (!!!) it's from Rome southwards that are a disgrace...as if people living in the south of Italy are second rate humans...:o(

Posted by: paola filinesi | October 25, 2006 11:39 PM

3rd world country? 4rd world!

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | October 25, 2006 08:38 PM

oh my god!!!

Posted by: pino santarcangelo | October 25, 2006 07:38 PM

What about more railroads for freight transportation instead of trucks?

Our railroads are like the ones belonging to a 3rd world country.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | October 25, 2006 07:09 PM

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