Don’t Complain, Just Run!

22 06 2008

Not much space or consideration for pedestrians in Italy

My brother, a noted coffee-mug connoisseur, had a cup that warned “If you don’t like the way I drive get off the sidewalk.” There’s no question that bad drivers are everywhere – it’s just that the proportion here in Italy seems to be higher; a consequence of the cult of the guida sportiva where every Panda owner tries to take the racing line into sharp curves on ancient roads. When she went to Canada for the first time, my wife was surprised at the high percentage of people who would crawl through deserted streets at a snail’s pace, respecting all the four-way stops, and even using turn signals.

In particular, crossing the street in Italy is always a challenge. The tendency of the average driver is to estimate your expected progress at the time they will pass the intersection so that the car is able to pass 4 cm to your left or right without stopping. The problems come when the driver is distracted, especially by one or more of their cellphones. I’ve seen people controlling their Mercedes with their elbows while speaking on two mobiles simultaneously.

With all the potential perils, I tend to be very assertive when riding my bike or crossing the street: a loud “attenzione” tends to wake up the inattentive conducente. However, such an approach seems to have its dangers. The newspaper La Repubblica is reporting this morning that a pedestrian who complained about an aggressive manuever by a driver on the outskirts of Milan was grabbed by the occupants of the Audi, carried away in the car, and beaten with a baseball bat. The lesson seems to be that if they don’t hit you, just be thankful.

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6 responses

23 06 2008
taze1

What’s the biking like where you are? People tell me that cycling in the big Italian cities like Milan, Rome and palermo is dying out because of the traffic and lack of cycling paths.

26 06 2008
Mr C

Great post!

27 06 2008
barbaraland

I lived in a city before and it was really scary to drive or to cross the road. Now I live in a smaller town and it is a bit different. It is surely safer to go out with my daughter!!! Bye bye.

6 07 2008
shakespearepolitics

I notice that you say it is “a bit different.” I expect the traffic is better in terms of quantity, rather than quality…

7 07 2008
RvK/LC

Ah… yes. Driving in Italy. If you really want to piss off your Italian friends, ask them why Ferrari has never won an F1 title with an Italian driver. You know the answer…

14 06 2009
fede

hey im italian and live in genoa i assure u that ive traveled a lot and lived in lotso places and trust me genoa is a beautiful city compared to most of the ones you know, it has the sea, the landscape, the hills, the mountains… u have nothing to complain bout italy coz i can assure you that genoa is one of the best cities in the world!
i hope ull come back again and appreaciate how beautiful and interesting genoa is.
ps:im only 14 so dnt leave any stupid comments

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