Bologna Cycling: Not Necessarily for Novices

Cycling in Bologna is being taken more seriously than in decades past as there are now more cycling paths, not to mention the Dynamo Velostazione, where you can rent, store, and repair all sorts of bikes, particularly helpful if part of your commute is by train. But that doesn’t mean Bologna cycling is a piece of cake. While out the other day, I saw a couple of instances where Bologna cycling looked more like an introduction to extreme sports.

cycling in bologna cycling bicycles

First off was the combination walking and cycling path next to a relatively busy road. These are fairly common in the Netherlands in park areas and large bridges, though not so common along regular roads, where the bicycles tend to have their own lane and pedestrians have a full sidewalk. Here in Bologna I’ve seen a few of these combo paths where the pedestrians are farthest from the street and the cyclists are next to the street. They’re essentially normal sidewalks that have been divided to serve double duty. The result is that the cycle path is often unbelievably narrow. Yet people do use them.

cycling in bologna

narrow lane cycling in bologna cycling

narrow lane cycling in bologna cycling italy shared path

In another instance, the cyclists do finally have their own segregated lanes away from traffic, though what would typically be one lane in the Netherlands is two lanes here, for cycle traffic in both directions. Challenging, but not that bad, as the bike traffic isn’t heavy. The real challenge in one spot comes from the lamp poles. This is not a one-off, either. They tend to ignore obstacles that might impede bicycles. Think of it as a good reason not to text and bike; you definitely need to be paying attention!

cycling in bologna cycling bike path

I do see people cycling around town almost every time I’m out, although nowhere near the volume that I saw in the Netherlands, of course. There is obviously interest, and people willing to use whatever infrastructure there is. As the old Kevin Costner film said, “If you build it, they will come.” If Bologna continues to make more of an effort in creating truly useful, cycle-friendly infrastructure that is consistent — another key issue — I think you could find even more people cycling. There’s certainly no shortage of bike shops in the city center. I can think of three or four just in my immediate neighborhood. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s good to see some effort.

cycling in bologna cycling bike rack

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2 comments

  1. pretty funny that the bike paths go around the lampposts! well, at least Bologna is trying!

    do they wear helmets there, by the way? do you know what the accident percentage is with bikes? For example I know it’s quite bad in the UK as drivers really have no respect for cyclists AT ALL.




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    1. There’s another lamp post that is just smack in the middle of the lane, with no effort to go around it. But yeah, at least they are making an effort. The stop and start of lanes is the worst, really. And no, no helmets. As I joked with Invader Stu, I can’t imagine Italians wanting to wear helmets. It goes against the concept of “bella figura”. I have no idea what the accident rate is, though. I’ll have to look into that, as well as the percentage of people who bike at all. Maybe drivers are slightly more thoughtful since they’re used to all the mopeds? Or they could be less sympathetic due to the mopeds!




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