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.
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.