What Boris can learn from the Mayor of Rome’s plan for the Colosseum

The news today is that the Colosseum is to be returned to the people ,with the removal of the roads surrounding it. The Mayor of Rome said to the BBC:

“I don’t think any other city in the world … would have turned the Colosseum, probably the most famous monument on the planet, into a roundabout….

Today is the beginning of a dream. I believe we have a responsibility to keep the richness of history for the entire human kind – it is more important than a shortcut.”

Mayor Ignazio Marino is talking a lot of sense and perhaps London Mayor, Boris Johnson should listen.

Having such a forward thinking idea, is bound to attract criticism.

Local residents and business owners are staging protests and complaining that the plans will “torture” Romans.

However, from an interview in the New York Times, it seems the Mayor of Rome has a handle on things:

Mr. Marino cheerfully acknowledged that he would be “crucified” by citizens in the short term, but said it was worth fighting for his “vision of what I want this city to be in 30 years.” He added, “No one will remember who the mayor was in 2013, but everyone will appreciate the pedestrian area.”

The benefits of the project won’t be visible, until it’s completed. Therefore, you need to be prepared to weather the criticism in the short term, to realise these long term gains.

It’s rare to see a politician willing to put themselves out there ,with a plan that will make them unpopular in the short term.

Boris Johnson could certainly learn from this.

In London, there is one location that springs to mind that could see a similar transformation.

One of the LCC’s campaigns is to turn Parliament Square in to a public destination that we can be proud of, rather than a traffic clogged roundabout.

LCC redesign of Parliament Square

The plan includes plenty of space for walking and cycling. I for one, would love to walk around somewhere like this and I imagine the increase footfall would do wonders for local businesses.

There are plenty of other London locations that could benefit from this kind of treatment. Oxford Circus, Camden High Street and the streets of Soho. Perhaps as Rome reaps the benefits, London will follow.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

15 Responses to What Boris can learn from the Mayor of Rome’s plan for the Colosseum

  1. Dunc 08/08/2013 at 9:28 am #

    Trafalgar Square would be one that springs to mind.

  2. Patrick 08/08/2013 at 11:42 am #

    Looking at the colosseum on the map, that’s a major change to the road layout!


    Parliment square would be trivial by comparison, just extending St James Park a small distance towards the river. Oh for a vision!


  3. Henz 08/08/2013 at 11:58 am #

    Hyde Park Corner is another example.

  4. MARK REYNOLDS 09/08/2013 at 10:23 am #

    Buonissimo Snr Marino!

    As a frequent traveller to Italy, particularly Sicily where I love to cycle, what a fantastic idea, especially in such a car dominant society.

    Over to you Mr Johnson…

  5. Ed 09/08/2013 at 11:27 am #

    surely trafalgar square has already been done, it used to be a roundabout and now the north side has been pedestrianised. of course it could still be improved but was a very could thing that ken got done.

    rome is absolutely awful for cycling, hardly anyone does so this seems like a very small step.

  6. Maurilio from rome 10/08/2013 at 7:24 pm #

    I’m Maurilio. From Roma.
    The choice of the mayor of Rome Marino a very bad choice. Rome does not have public transportation such as those in London. Public transportation in Rome are non-existent. Mayor Marino is creating chaos in the traffic of Rome.

  7. Maurilio from rome 10/08/2013 at 8:59 pm #

    I’m maurilio, from rome.
    these are the consequences of the terrible choice of the mayor marino environment. and we are in August, when rome is empty

    • Giuseppe 19/08/2013 at 8:38 am #

      The photos are are related to the day-after, it needs some time to work. Fori Imperiali was a street built by Mussolini, he demolished a huge Mediaeval neighborhood to build it. Below the street there’s a big part of the Foro Romano, the Mayor is going to dig the area to make a very big archeological park. Now Fori Imperiali is opened also to the public transport, but the purpose is to make it a space for walking and cycling only.
      Many of protesters are Gianni Alemanno’s supporter, they should live with Marino.

  8. Angelica Petrongari 11/08/2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I’m from Rome. I’m glad my mayor is giving an example to a city which is as important as Rome! And he’s showing to the whole world that, even if you receive lots of critics, you must make some important and revolutionary choices to make the city become more beautiful and more comfortable for the citiziens and the tourists, and to reduce the pollution. It’s true, there’s the crisis of public transports, because of the former mayor, but if we work together, it’ll be better in time. Marino remembered us the pedestrianization of Piazza Del Popolo: there was a great number of critics, lots of people thought it was a terrible choice because it would have caused bad consequences on trade and traffic. Well, NOW nobody says this anymore and NOBODY would erase this choice!!! I’m proud of my mayor and I want Rome to finally become one of the most important European cities for the tourism and the culture!!

  9. Maurilio from rome 12/08/2013 at 7:36 am #

    I showed the consequences of the bad choice of the mayor marino with pictures. which are nothing compared to what will happen in September. the rest is pure demagogy. The problem is that public transport in Rome do not exist. The mayor should first take action on public transport. and instead did nothing. Also there are much more serious problems, such as your ambassador rightly said, as security. but he does nothing

    • francesco 14/08/2013 at 1:28 pm #

      Gia’ perche’ il suo predecessore ha fatto tantissimo invece. I Romani coinciassero a lasciare la macchinina a casa e a prendere i mezzi che ci sono. “Public trasnport in Rome does not exist”: alla faccia della demagogia.

  10. Ivan 14/08/2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Dear Maurilio,
    the mayor has just begun. The C line will improve the transportation system. If you dig under the road that was built by Mussolini destroying a medieval neighbourhood, you will uncover what is remaining of the ancient fora. To me this choice make a lot of sense. All these cars don’t make any sense in Rome, they should increase the cost of the service and improve soundly.

    Ciao a tutti,

    • Ivan 14/08/2013 at 2:33 pm #

      I meant increase the cost of the transportation system and improve it at tha same time.

  11. Patrick 14/08/2013 at 5:30 pm #

    Public transport or not, all cyclists need are smooth roads and understanding drivers.

  12. balanza 14/08/2013 at 8:04 pm #

    Half the cars running through rome city center are of politicians, of journalists for politititians, of police for politicians, of politicians’ hairdressers…. Better said: rome center cant actually be enjoyed from citizens… Moving that business apart, in the suburbs, that would be amazing for rome

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