If Venice were a “normal” city...

If Venice were a “normal” city, at the 2014 Italian average of 610 passenger cars per 1,000 inhabitants, it would have 33,500 cars. If we imagine them one after the other, they would make a line 134 km long, covering a road distance like that between Venice and Lake Garda.

At the very optimistic rate of 140g/Km of Co2 emission per car and considering the 2014 national yearly average of 12,780 Km per car, 33,500 cars would produce 59,938,200 Kg of Co2 every year, in addition to hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, sulfur oxide and other pollutants. Without taking lorries and trucks into account. Of course, there are water buses, mostly part of the city public transport, but their efficiency in terms of passengers is much higher than cars and their pollution could be addressed by switching to gas and electric. And when big cruise ships will be banned from the city (and the lagoon), the quality of Venetian air will improve even further.

If Venice were like Veneto, in 2016 it would have had – in proportion to the number of its inhabitants – 154 road accidents, with 4 people killed and 210 injured (Istat, 2017), and this would go on for many years. On the contrary, car accidents are not a problem in Venice.

The loss of car and fuel taxes that the state would earn from the 33,500 Venetian cars would be largely compensated in terms of health and wellbeing of its citizens.

While Italy has 20-30% of its consumed soil covered by asphalt and used for roads, parking lots, etc., in Venice it is about 2.5% of its emerged area, including Tronchetto. And petroleum-based asphalt and its production are bad for the environment.

Unlike what happens in "normal" cities, Venice did not have to adapt to the circulation of vehicles. It did not have to widen the streets, create bypasses, intersections and roundabouts. With the exception of Piazzale Roma, del Tronchetto, and the San Basilio Maritime Station, it did not have to create parking areas.The urban space is instead almost entirely available to its inhabitants, the only owners of calli and campi.

In this sense and for centuries, Venice has been a remarkable workshop allowing to experience a car-free urban life.

Cover and text images: Points of conjunction between asphalt and stone, Piazzale Roma, Venice, 2019.