Rome Travel Guide

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

White Lines, Big City

No, this isn't Rome. We've never seen a newly painted pedestrian crosswalk in Rome, never seen the painter guys freshening the white lines.

This is by no means a trivial matter. Although crosswalks are hardly inviolable spaces, many Rome motorists will respect (tolerate might be a better word, or maybe "dislike less") pedestrians who cross the street in the crosswalk--that is, at the white lines. Romans know this, and some believe so deeply in the right to cross the street at these designated places that they'll venture into a white-lined zone without even looking.

The problem, we all know, is that Rome's white lines have nearly disappeared, victims of wear and tear and lack of attention, mere ghosts of white lines past, virtually invisible to the harried businessman in the Lamborghini, to the guy on his Bergman 650 with the cell phone tucked in his helmet, to the nearsighted pensionato (retired person), to the secretary late for work--to anyone, really.

Traffic experts seem to agree that accidents involving pedestrians would be reduced if the white lines were really white. But the responsibility to do this work lies not with the mayor or the Rome city government, but--so we've been told--with the more local "municipi," which have apparently decided to spend their money elsewhere. Don't wait up for the painting crew.

The photo was taken in Genova.



Mick P said...

I've seen the crossing near our flat repainted two or three times in the six years we've lived here. The trouble is, they seem to use a spray paint not dissimilar to that which you'd use to spray a car (or a wall with graffiti, this being Rome). This results in a very fine layer of paint which soons wears off. In Britain, used as an example only because I know the place, they use a very thick paint which, I think, is based on epoxy resin and it's laid on hot. It lasts for a long time and stays quite bright. Also, British crossings are marked at the side of the road by orange beacons on top of black and white striped poles, something that Rome's crossings, if they were to remain faded and almost invisible, would benefit from. I won't hold my breath...

Dianne Bennett and William Graebner said...

Thanks for your comment, Mick. I wonder if Rome's enormous scooter population might have something to do with the use of thin paint--that is, is the thicker stuff slippery when wet--or even when dry and fresh? We've been riding a scooter for Rome for years and I'm very cautious about turning on fresh paint. Bill

Mick P said...

Bill - sorry, only just spotted your reply.

Well, if the Rome authorities are making decisions based on the welfare of two-wheelers, it's a new one on me. I once read somewhere, and I can believe it, that Rome has more motorised two-wheelers than any other European city. Yet, as you well know, the state of the roads in general is shockingly bad. Yes, over the past five years or so they've managed to remove some of the sampietrini cobbles on main thoroughfares (such as stretches of Lungotevere) and replace them with Tarmac, but riding a scoot here is still very risky - and that's just in terms of the road surface, let alone the many other factors. I spend a disproportionate amount of time looking out for potholes, cracks, raised or sunken manhole covers, perilous humps caused by pine tree roots... the list goes on. In my opinion, the comune's lack of regard for its two-wheel-riding citizens borders on the criminally negligent.

You might be interested (and probably already know about) this pressure group website, which seems to generate a disappointing amount of traffic (excuse the pun)