Rome's cycling mayor closes Colosseum road to cars

"No other city would have turned the Colosseum into a roundabout."

by John Stevenson   August 6, 2013  

The Colosseum from the Via dei Fori Imperiali (creative commons licensed by mag3737:Flickr)

The other cycling mayor of a great city, Rome’s Ignazio Marino has begun an attempt to curb the car-domination of the Italian capital and consequent damage to its ancient monuments by banning cars from the road through the Forum to the Colosseum.

Mayor Ignazio Marino hopes to eventually turn the whole area into an archaeological park, according to the Guardian. Only bicycles, pedestrians, emergency vehicles, buses and taxis will be allowed to use the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

“We must chose whether we want cars or to value our monuments,” said Mr Marino.

A transplant surgeon before going into politics, Mr Marino was elected mayor of Rome in June of this year, and has drawn attention by cycling to meetings. The pedestrianisation of the route was one of the first decisions he announced after taking office. He has been able to implement the plan remarkably quickly.

“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,” he said in an interview broadcast Saturday by the BBC.

Via dei Fori Imperiali was built by the dictator Benito Mussolini so he could more quickly get to his office north of the Capitoline Hill.

“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.”

“I say it with respect, but between the interest of someone who can’t stop in front of his newsagent in his car, and the protection of the Colosseum, I choose the latter,” Mr Marino said.

While the route is still open to some motor traffic, Mr Marino has said he would like to turn it into a pedestrians-only zone.

“Thanks to this pedestrianization project, Via dei Fori Imperiali will become the most stunningly beautiful boulevard in the world,” the City of Rome said on its project website. “Here is where it all started, and, here, today’s Rome is reborn”.

10 user comments

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Wants to think himself lucky. If it were over here, we'd have turned it into a multi-storey car-park.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [240 posts]
6th August 2013 - 16:50

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You see Boris. This is how it is done Wink

posted by SevenHills [143 posts]
6th August 2013 - 17:55

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nowasps wrote:
Wants to think himself lucky. If it were over here, we'd have turned it into a multi-storey car-park.

Really? id say the UK was pretty good at protecting its 'treasured monuments' from traffic, plenty of pedestrianized zones about or cropping up.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [409 posts]
6th August 2013 - 18:48

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And what has the locals' reaction been like? It'll be interesting to compare and contrast with the froth-mouth'd reaction I see in my local rag any time an anti-car measure (or what they choose to see as an anti-car measure) gets implemented.

seven's picture

posted by seven [90 posts]
6th August 2013 - 18:57

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“I say it with respect, but between the interest of someone who can’t stop in front of his newsagent in his car, and the protection of the Colosseum, I choose the latter,” Mr Marino said."

I wonder if I can get him o be mayor where I live Wink

posted by spen [75 posts]
6th August 2013 - 19:24

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I was in Rome last a few years ago, and they'd closed the road for the evening.

Fabulous it was too. Thousands of people strolling with families in the dusk, with musicians, street entertainers etc. Great atmosphere...

Ooooh, me legs...

posted by Oh heck... [46 posts]
6th August 2013 - 20:02

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Please, please please can we sack that joke Pickles and employ this guy instead

posted by gazza_d [178 posts]
7th August 2013 - 7:59

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I've lived in Rome for the last 19 years. When I arrived in '94, I literally saw no one else cycling to work. Now the numbers have grown, and the new major is one of the few who have embraced cycling, but no where near on the scale of London. Rome is still the only city I know of where the bike sharing scheme was a total flop.

On the plus side, 50,000 people turned out last year to a rally held on the same day as the Cycle Safe rally in London, showing that more people do want to cycle, but many just consider it too dangerous.

Dangerous it is. In those 19 years I've had 2 accidents resulting in injury, one broken back (T4) and last year a broken femur.

Hopefully Ignazio Marino will follow Bertrand Delanoë and Boris Johnson in pushing back in some ways on the car culture that had invaded so many cities. 97% Romans have cars, compared with 34% in London. Marino is on the right track.

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posted by niceguysean [100 posts]
7th August 2013 - 22:28

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get rid of all councils and have a single mayoral system instead, where we can all run for it and actually make a difference. I'm sick of hearing about XX million quid given to councils for bike projects and seeing zip-all!!!
(unless road-patching comes under the cycling project umbrella)

posted by a_to_the_j [73 posts]
8th August 2013 - 11:46

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Better to have a city worth living in than trying to cram as much people and cars into it. Plus, for when I visit as a tourist this makes a city much more enjoyable and I'd recommend cities like these much more.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
8th August 2013 - 21:55

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