Monday, August 22, 2011

Single minded infrastructure and helpful natives

I have to conclude that Italy is a not very bike-minded country. In spite of its, earlier mentioned, colourful tradition in this field. And with the exception of some northern areas, where last year we rode many beautiful kilometers on fine bike lanes.
Though there are many quiet small roads in the countryside, especially in the urban regions we have been passing through these days the complete infrastructure is based on the use of the motorcar, little or no thought has been given to cyclists or foot paasingers. Especially in the more urban regions a desert of asphalt exists, with exits, junctions and by-passes one after and over the other. Between them there are the commercial areas with their shopping malls. The result of all this city-planning is that an Italian without a car must be a handicapped person. He won't be able to reach any of the modern facilities that he is told to need.
Pray that such developments will not occur in our home country.
Now we come and try to pass these knots of roads on our way to the east. Road signs galore, but never we can be certain that we will not end up on a motorway or another road aligned with high safety barriers and racing cars just inches away from our right arms. Situations we don't want to be in.
So often we stand and check our maps and gps and don't know anything better to do than ask someone. Very often we address a cyclist. Rather many of them, pensioners on racebikes mostly, can be seen on the Italian roads. And a couple of times already such a cyclist would start to explain how to ride and then come to the conclusion that he better accompany us for some time. And so it happens then. Yesterday f.i. a man rode with us for maybe 20 minutes up a pass untill there was a tiny road to the left, la strada vecchio. We should take this old road, for else we would come into some long tunnels, and that would be “multo pericoloso” There he left us and returned.
Once we had crossed the pass this way (multo bello, by the way) we descended and again, in the narrow valley, the old road and the new motorway mingled into an unclear situation. At a certain moment a car passed us, stopped and the man asked us where we were going. Wrong road, according to him. He told us to turn round etc. But some 4 kms further, there he was again. The situation was too complicated, he said. He would drive in front of us for 3 kms. So it happened. Then he made a drawing of the situation of the coming roads and pointed out how we had to ride. Then he said goodbye, after we had expressed our gratitude of course.

Such kindness!

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