Romans Not Totally Committed to Bicycle Sharing

roman bikes photo

Photo: B. Alter

You have to love the Romans: they promenade stylishly down their glorious streets, they park their Smart cars on the sidewalks, and now they have bicycle-sharing. Sort of....

green bikes photo

Photo: B. Alter

The bicycle sharing program has come to town slowly and with a background story that sounds like a Puccini opera. It started in 2008, with 200 red bicycles in 19 different locations around town. Called Roma'n'Bike, it was run by a Spanish advertising company Cemusa. It was meant to be privately run. Nine months later they pulled the plug because of bureaucratic delays and no formal contract.

The Mayor tried to patch things up in the face of protests by biking associations. Now the city's public transport company ATAC has taken it over, and it will be run by the municipality.

bike sign photo

Photo: B. Alter

The bikes are green and there are 150 of them in 15 different locations. They are very light, unlike the London Boris Bikes, and they have a nice metal basket in the front and a sweet little bell. There is a platform on the rear wheel to put packages on.

Unlike London the first half hour is not free, the system is strictly pay as you go. The price is E .50 per half an hour and there is a E 5. registration fee.

The Romans love their little cars and park them everywhere. Given their notorious contempt for pedestrians, bicycle riding in Rome should prove to be a challenging and daunting idea. There were few bicycles to be seen in the docking stations, although quite a few motorcycles were parked there, and few to be seen on the streets.

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