Vespa (which means “wasp” in Italian) scooters are an international symbol of Made in Italy style and design. The scooter was invented in 1947 as a low cost alternative to the automobile in war-ravaged Europe. Genoa, the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy, is birthplace of the iconic two-wheeler.
Though, the scooter was running on the streets of Italy for a long period of time, it was only after 1953’s Hollywood film ‘Roman Holiday,’ did it become world famous for its distinctive looks.
Despite its worldwide popularity, the city of Genoa has decided to ban the vintage scooter to bring down pollution levels across the city.
The mayor of the north-western Italian city recently banned all the Vespa scooters that have been produced before 1999, a move which has lead to widespread outrage and protests across Genoa.
The move, though made in a bid to tackle pollution, has not been well received by the local residents who have created such an outrage that the mayor has been forced to postpone it till later this year.
As soon as the news about the ban hit papers, hashtag #handsoffmyvespa went viral on social media across Italy, with riders getting furious about the mayor’s move.
Genoa boasts more motorcycles per capita than any other Italian city and after the announcement about the ban, the protesters took up the slogan: ‘Born in Genoa, dies in Genoa’ to make their displeasure known.
Genoa’s mayor Marco Doria had signed off an anti-smog initiative in December last year, and as part of that initiative, the ban was due to come into force in February.
Being one of the biggest motorcycle cities in Italy, the move would have stranded close to 20,000 Vespa riders.
The initiative was to ban these two-wheeler, from 7am to 7pm in large areas of the city centre. But the 12 hours ban daily was not met by the riders well and it sparked off such a huge backlash that the move was suspended till April so as to give people time to arrange for an alternative mode of transport.
However, looking at the current mood of the locals the initiative might be completely scrapped.
Talking about the ban, Vittorio Vernazzano of the Vespa Club Genova had said:
‘This really shouldn’t be happening, especially not in 2016, the 70th anniversary of the birth of the Vespa, and in Genoa, where it was produced in 1946 by a Genovese entrepreneur, Enrico Piaggio.”
Though the move and response look similar to that of Delhi’s Odd – Even number plate trial, there are few things which worked for Delhi and might not work for Genova.
Unlike Delhi, Genova has fewer number of cars than any other city in Italy (apart from Venice, where the main mode of transport is boat or gondola.) Also according to pro-Vespa campaigners, the public transport services in the city is poor and people would thus be left stranded by the ban. Even with the above reasons are valid, environment assessor Italo Porcile is determined not to give in to the pressure and says people’s health is more than convenience. He further reasons that they are only banning models produced before 1999.
Talking about the ban, Porcile said:
‘I love the Vespino, I used to have one myself, but the ‘Euro 0′ (a model produced before 1999) pollutes terribly and public health is more important’.