Roman Locomotion (as observed by a pedestrian)

This is about how Romans get around on the roads.  Plenty of people walk.  And there is public transportation in the form of buses, trams, and the metro.  I’ll cover that once I figure it out.  The public transportation, that is.  I am theoretically proficient at walking.

Everyone here drives.  EVERYONE.  Your grandmother, your teenagers, families with kids, soccer hooligans.  Everyone.  According to the internets, Rome has almost 2.9 million people.  According to my unscientific observations, 92% of them drive.  “But where do they all park??” you ask incredulously.  I know.  I’m still trying to figure this out.  The best I can tell is they park (1) on top of each other and (2) wherever they can.

Up first, the motorini.  There are crazy numbers of motos on the road.  They zip in and out from between cars.  They jostle for position at lights, blocking crosswalks.  This seems like the most efficient way for a single person to get around, but also very terrifying.  I have not yet verified, but someone told me that motorini count as pedestrians in the eyes of the law, which contributes to their fearlessness because they have little to lose in an accident.  BESIDES THEIR LIVES.  At least most do wear helmets.  Usually with a cell phone stuffed under it to chat on the commute.

See the motorini gearing up to go?

See the motorini gearing up to go?

They move in herds and they park in gaggles.  You might see 10, 50, or even 100 all grouped together.

Henry is in moto heaven.  I would think he’d get sick of it, but he comments on all of them as we go by.  Easy distraction = I’ll take it.

A small-ish herd of motorini

A small-ish herd of motorini

They also park on the sidewalks.  Most of them are black or silver.  I would think you’d see more individuality for ease of locating yours, if not in color then in stickers or something.  Basically the equivalence of tying a ribbon onto your black suitcase.  But this hasn’t been the case.  I see a few pops of color.  Red, blue, yellow.  And one moto with a Bob Marley sticker.  I guess Italians just remember where they park these things.  So much for my “Dude, where’s my Motorino” movie pitch.

Considerate motos . . . plenty of room to pass

Considerate motos . . . plenty of room to pass

But don’t fret.  There are plenty of cars on the road as well.  Cars are definitely of a more compact nature.  I see a lot of Fiats, Smart Cars, and Minis.  We’ve run across some really adorable vintage Fiats and Minis, but I do not have pictures of them for you because I am the worst.

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Cars park up and down both sides of most streets.  They create spaces where none exist.  They occasionally block sidewalks, particularly when they park on corners.  I’ve had some frustrating moments where a sidewalk is impassable, but it is impossible to get into the street because the cars are parked that close together.

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I’m not entirely sure on the draw of driving.  I know plenty of times you don’t have a choice.  But it seems to take forever.  They just sit in traffic.  Burning through expensive gasoline.

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An interesting phenomenon we’ve observed is their unorthodox approach to going places without actually knowing where they are going.  We’ve been stopped at least three times from people pulling over to ask for directions.  (This also happens a lot with pedestrians.)  There just seems to be the mentality of, well, we don’t know exactly where we’re going, but surely someone will tell us along the way.

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Romans will fit 10 Smart cars in that space

There are a few bicycles on the road, but not very many.  I see more bikes in parks.  Unlike motorini, not many helmets on bikers.

You do see some sci-fi type creations as well.  This is a Renault Twizy, which is battery powered.

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I’ve seen other unusual vehicles as well.  I’ll work harder on snapping photos of them in their natural habitat!

4 thoughts on “Roman Locomotion (as observed by a pedestrian)

  1. Kappa Language School says:

    Hey, you took a picture of my car there!
    Jokes apart, you have a point. Driving in Rome is hell, so you should look at the action of (finding a) parking as a moment of liberation strenuously pursued by each and every citizen to save their mental stability. This is why we get so creative in doing it.
    Plus, consider this: roman public transportation sucks, when it even exists. Having a private vehicle here is a matter of survival (and a bike in Rome is NOT considered a vehicle, but a death omen).
    Cheers and please take care when you cross the streets. I mean, when you manage to cross them.

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