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Ten Commandments for a Bike-able Rome

January 16, 2010

This month I’ve decided to upload the English-language translation I made of the “CicloDecalogo”, a document presented last fall to the city of Rome by a committee of urban biking activists here.  I will include at the end a list of links to various organizations active in this important endeavor.

1. The DEVELOPMENT OF URBAN BICYCLE MOBILITY is a point around which important administrative choices pivot, as in the entire civilized world, a framework of policies for simplified intermodal public transit and especially of moderation,  disincentives  and removal of motorized vehicles from the city.  If the City really wants to change, its understanding of traffic must set aside alibis of “impossibly long timeframes” and instead launch viable short and medium term plans now. It is clear that this requires courageous choices, but other cities have done this with clear benefits: look at the good example of Brussels, transformed from the parking lot of steel to become again a city of people. (Velocity Report 2009). A first start is the insertion of concrete resources in the 2010 Budget.
2. REDUCTION OF SPEED: Zone 30 in the historical center, in the limited traffic zone and on internal residential streets. A rigorous 50 km limit elsewhere. Only at speeds below 50 km / h can one survive being run over by a car. Apart from the deep human wounds, every accident carries an unacceptable social cost, which should induce the City to protect its most vulnerable citizens, no ifs, ands or buts. Despite the shameful media campaigns to discredit them, speed traps and video cameras are a useful deterrent. There are still too few and they alone are not enough; urgent solutions are needed that make it necessary to slow down. Speed bumps near many sensitive locations,  in the many sensitive locations (schools, parks, hospitals, churches are protected in this way throughout the world without succumbing to the alibi of “emergency vehicle access”
Increased pedestrian crossings (installed without problems in many municipalities) to highlight the crossing and to slow vehicles even when no pedestrians or bicycles are visible.
Frequent preventive controls, followed by penalties, not in a war between people making different transit choices but as a necessary means to prevent deaths and accidents. Law enforcement should be carried out, without arrogance, by people who expect others to behave civilly, respecting common rules of safe behavior. Those guilty of offenses are not only drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but those who speed in the middle of neighborhoods, those who run red lights or intimidate pedestrians by speeding up at crosswalks, an increasingly common phenomenon that must be prosecuted without further delay.
3. BIKE ROUTES bike paths and pedestrian-bike paths should be created wherever possible, but not as a ghetto,  or trade-off intended to placate local interests, but rather as part of a set of extensive and far-reaching policies for urban biking. Take advantage of left over open spaces and enhance them, creating connections and not disdaining the creation of connections and simplifications with the inclusion of parks and wide, deserted sidewalks but rather through small but courageous choices such as the occasional localized expropriation. Above all, the undignified whining over the loss of parking spaces must be put to rest. There exists no God-given right to a parking space, and most people can walk 500 meters with clear cardiovascular benefits. We do not want the bike paths for sporting cyclists, but for harmonious mobility, shared with pedestrians, disabled, parents with strollers, the elderly who wish to walk;  a true slow-user OASIS with a limit of 20 km / h for bikes.  The (few) existing bike paths should be connected and new designs of a high technical quality should be executed. There are examples that have performed brilliantly, rejuvenating entire neighborhoods with documented re-evaluation of property. Above all, the conversion of sidewalks into  in parking spaces must cease, freeing these spaces systematically for pedestrian use. Some concrete examples on which to take decisive action:
Immediate closing of the Olympic Pool parking lot built over the “Ciclovia della Musica “ bike path, returning this illegally occupied property to the rightful owner, the City and to the cyclists who used it;With a little maintenance and a small but continuous investment, the Tiber bike path could achieve the dreams and hopes nurtured over the years. The use of the river banks for parking and transit of cars and scooters is unacceptable and the Estate Romana festival should be moved to the left bank to avoid blocking the bikepath from May to October, the very most favorable months for biking; the Palmiro Togliatti bike path is left unfinished and poorly executive; no serious corrections have been made to the make-shift solutions, leading to the abandonment of  “the useless bike path” which potentially provides a strategic link-Aniene Nomentana-Tiburtina-Casilina-Cinecittà-Aqueducts — Appius-Colombo-EUR-Center-Tiber.  The solution for Collatina and railway station cannot be postponed further.
  • Viale Marconi Laurentina junction with the Tiber bike path and connection to RomaTre;
  • Via Nomentana,  now even more valid due to the bike sharing station in Villa Torlonia
  • Testaccio;
  • Aurelian Walls, strategic ring road, already semi-finished thanks to the pomerium
  • Andrea Doria;
  • Prolonging Tiber Mezzocammino – Mare on the left bank towards Ostia and the sea. This would restore brilliance to the Tiber South area that, while dramatic, has little mobility use.

With a gesture of great political value and unanimously approved sensitivity, the dedication  of a new and easily implemented bike route Colosseo/CircoMassimo/ Venezia/Fori/Colosseo should be dedicated to Eva Bohdhalova (killed by a taxi while biking home from work this year).  Similarly, the Tevere Tor di Valle should be dedicated to Luigi Moriccioli.

A study by Cycling England showed that if a cyclist goes to work 3 days a week for a year this results in savings for the community of 600 pounds, in 30 years equivalent to 10,000 pounds. A single cyclist, a true investment in good policy.BICIPLAN Thousands of simple, concrete, economic ideas have been verified and compiled with passion by local communities and are ready to be implemented. An explanation is called for as to the incomprehensible lack of progress on this initiative.

4. ZTL and PEDESTRIAN ZONES. The limited traffic zone and pedestrian areas of the world’s most beautiful and fragile historical center should again become serious, lasting and inescapable instruments. The uncertain policies and and delays have in fact resulted in the invasion and development of beautiful Baroque squares and picturesque Renaissance spaces, reduced to scrap-metal storage or banal shortcuts for the privileged and undisciplined. Today automobiles even deface Piazza Navona.

5. BAN THE CAR FROM THE CITY CENTER. Rome should be car-free at least at its core, and those few necessary cars should be slowed by a strictly-enforced Zone 30. The economic and public relations return from such a policy would be immediate; Rome would become once again livable and enjoyable, free from dangerous and oppressive hysterics,  for tourists, children, elderly and. .. cyclists from all over the world!
Also, clear laws and signage should permit bikes to travel against one-way limitations on the streets with very little traffic.

6. GREEN STREETS AND INTERCHANGE PARKING LOTS. Municipal governments should coordinate their efforts to manage traffic arteries, identifying car-free commercial and residential areas (Green Roads) as it has wisely launched in some districts. Together with the Province and the Region Rome should not invest in new neighborhoods and streets that flow into the city without having first providing points of exchange with the public transport. The goal is to make car use in the city less desirable than other forms of transport through a committed and continuous policy of incentives and disincentives. This has no longer been true for some time and Romans are now convinced that it is better to waste 11 days in traffic than to take public transportation which is not adequately protected by bus lanes.
7. BIKE TRANSPORT ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT should be introduced and increased boldly and quickly where it is already possible,  increasing the allowed days and time slots (Metro, Tram and Jumbobus) and providing for the foreseeable future on the rail line C and B1. On new metros and trams, an appropriate bike storage space (internal or external – there exist many examples from abroad) would allow an easy, fast and secure intermodal transportation of bikes included in the Metrebus ticket price.
8. BIKE STORAGE SHEDS AND RACKS everywhere, as a loud and clear call for the use of bicycles. Pleasant and low-cost additions can be made to public buildings, schools, cinemas, theaters, libraries and stations / bus terminus, possibly in safe environments, exploiting those already under surveillance. High rack models allow the most secure anchorage of the frame. Large companies should be invited to install them, using them as a hinderance to the criminal assault of more or less illegal billboards which with impunity have been degrading the city, and also to prevent the disorderly illegal parking.  In Milan every subway station has its storage area for bikes and motorbikes.
9. BIKE SHARING should meet standards at least of Milan,  if not in Paris, with many more stations and bikes and, above all, the usual first half hour free so as to be truly convenient and in synergy with the public transport and spread even around Rome with great  direct and indirect benefits for all.
10. BUILDING CODES to allow bikes in condominiums. This is not to ask for subsidies to install install bike racks, but to adopt a regulation that allows them to be installed in common areas without having to re-approve the rules of the condominium. Rome is full of buildings with courtyards, both in the Center, where even the most prestigious have been ruined by auto parking, and in suburbs where disgraceful building projects have robbed the last remaining childrens’ playspaces, but it is still not possible to install a trivial but persuasive bike-rack.
The full Italian text is at .  Below are some other links to bike-related organizations in Rome; please comment with ones I have certainly missed.

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