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.


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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Covid-19 still causing 1,000 deaths a week in Europe, WHO warns

The World Health Organization's European office warned on Tuesday the risk of Covid-19 has not gone away, saying it was still responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths a week in the region. And the real figure may be much higher.

Covid-19 still causing 1,000 deaths a week in Europe, WHO warns

The global health body on May 5 announced that the Covid-19 pandemic was no longer deemed a “global health emergency.”

“Whilst it may not be a global public health emergency, however, Covid-19 has not gone away,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge told reporters.

The WHO’s European region comprises 53 countries, including several in central Asia.

“Close to 1,000 new Covid-19 deaths continue to occur across the region every week, and this is an underestimate due to a drop in countries regularly reporting Covid-19 deaths to WHO,” Kluge added, and urged authorities to ensure vaccination coverage of at least 70 percent for vulnerable groups.

Kluge also said estimates showed that one in 30, or some 36 million people, in the region had experienced so called “long Covid” in the last three years, which “remains a complex condition we still know very little about.”

“Unless we develop comprehensive diagnostics and treatment for long Covid, we will never truly recover from the pandemic,” Kluge said, encouraging more research in the area which he called an under-recognised condition.

Most countries in Europe have dropped all Covid safety restrictions but some face mask rules remain in place in certain countries in places like hospitals.

Although Spain announced this week that face masks will no longer be required in certain healthcare settings, including hospitals and pharmacies, with a couple of exceptions.

Sweden will from July 1st remove some of its remaining Covid recommendations for the public, including advice to stay home and avoid close contact with others if you’re ill or have Covid symptoms.

The health body also urged vigilance in the face of a resurgence of mpox, having recorded 22 new cases across the region in May, and the health impact of heat waves.