In interest to learn more about school streets initiatives worldwide, we chatted with Rome-based Anna Becchi of the Clean Cities Campaign about Tutti Giù per Strada a new project dedicated to promoting more schools streets across Italy.
The Clean Cities Campaign is a European coalition of NGOs and grassroots groups aiming to encourage cities to transition to zero-emission mobility by 2030. The campaign champions active, shared and electric mobility for a more liveable and sustainable urban future, which also requires phasing-out polluting vehicles from cities within a decade. The campaign is hosted by Transport & Environment and are active in 12 European countries, either directly or through national partners.
We’d love to learn more about Tutti Giù per Strada – why it was formed and by whom.
Anna: “Tutti giù per strada” is a new project of the Clean Cities Campaign. Our goal is to promote school streets in many Italian cities, starting from Rome, Milan, Bologna, Turin, Naples. We’re bringing together environmental organizations and parents groups all over the country to build participated, colorful and impactful mobilizations in which parents, children, teachers and activists ask for more school streets in their cities.
The movement got started after an initial survey of about 300 parents and activists in the target cities. Through a series of highly participatory online meetings, together we shaped the campaign and decided to launch it on the occasion of World Children’s Day. We then designed a logo, developed slogans and came up with a creative format for the planned flash mobs. We produced all sorts of materials, leaflets, signs, banners as well as social media content.
Can you tell us more about the flash mob held this month (November 2021) involving 50 schools across Italy?
Anna: The flash mob itself was designed as a circular chain of children and parents going round and round repeating a typical Italian nursery rhyme, with changed words (similar to a Ring Around the Rosie): go round and round, the world is polluted, the city is clogged up, all down to the street (Tutti giù per strada).
The flash mob was to be done in the middle of the street in front of the school, blocking the traffic for a few minutes to make some noise and be visible, but without making it too frustrating for those being blocked in their cars, especially because in Italy motorists can become very aggressive and the experience should be a pleasure and not a confrontation, at least for children. Parents and children wore signs saying: we want more school streets / we want fresh air to breathe / we want free space to play / we want safe roads / we want to go to school walking and cycling safely.
This first day of action on November 19th was a bit of a rehearsal of this flash mob format, and it was a success. Children and parents were enthusiastic and the message got through, some newspapers ran the story and many politicians got interested. So we will repeat it!
Where are the existing school streets in Italy?
Anna: In Italy we have just a few. Some experiments in Milan, Bozen, Parma, Bologna. Rome has started a trial in May this year, with a few streets being closed just one day a week and limited to schools’ entrance and exit times.
Was the initiative also inspired by school streets in other countries?
Anna: Yes, as I started collaborating with the Clean Cities Campaign over the summer, I learned a lot from the experience of the French, British, Belgian and Spanish coordinators.
How can people get involved with this if they want to help?
Anna: Anybody can contact me by email at email@example.com or on Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be happy to open to a wider European movement of parents and activists asking for more School streets all over the European Cities.