Rome (CNN) — Rome, the everlasting metropolis, has been invaded, conquered and pillaged numerous occasions since its founding almost 2,800 years in the past. Every assault has left scars all through town, from the ruins of the Roman Discussion board to the cavern of the Circus Maximus the place chariots as soon as raced.
The present invasion of the Italian capital comes from e-scooters — greater than 14,000 of them — trendy chariots that block sidewalks, unnerve drivers and kill.
Since rental scooters had been launched three years in the past as a substitute for public transportation in the course of the Covid pandemic, 4 folks have been killed whereas using them, in line with Rome Metropolis Corridor mobility councilman Eugenio Patane. Town’s emergency rooms deal with at the least one scooter-related main damage each three days, well being authorities say.
And but solely 2% (round 270) of the foot scooters for lease are used every day.
Rome Metropolis Corridor has given licenses to seven firms liable for altering batteries, finishing up repairs, shifting scooters to high-traffic areas and fishing them out of town’s Tiber River.
It is the scooters that are not in use which are presenting the best problem, particularly to the disabled.
‘A collection of frights’
Officers say solely 2% of 14,000 rental scooters in Rome are in use.
Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto/Getty Photos
As Giuliano Frittelli, head of the Italian Union for the Blind and Visually Impaired, navigates together with his strolling stick round a half a dozen scooters littering the sidewalk close to his workplace within the metropolis middle, he tells CNN that for individuals who do not see, they’re a dying entice.
“The primary drawback is the wild parking,” Frittelli says as he faucets his strolling stick on the bottom of a scooter, explaining that their uncommon form additionally makes it straightforward for somebody with impaired eyesight to journey over them.
He additionally says that as a result of they’re electrical, they’re silent, which can also be a menace to those that can’t see.
“You do not hear them so you can’t navigate round them,” Frittelli says, recalling an incident when a scooter handed a blind particular person so intently their startled seeing-eye canine jumped off the sidewalk, inflicting what he referred to as “a collection of frights” that fortunately didn’t finish in bodily damage.
Frittelli’s group is working with Rome Metropolis Corridor to make it necessary that scooters are parked solely in designated stalls. He additionally desires them tailored to supply a noise stage of at the least 30 decibels so it may function a warning of their method.
He says it isn’t simply disabled folks, together with these in wheelchairs, who wrestle to make use of the streets when the sidewalks are strewn with scooters. The aged and oldsters pushing child strollers are additionally affected.
Giuliano Frittelli, left, desires it to be necessary for scooters to be parked in designated locations.
Rome Metropolis Corridor site visitors councilman Eugenio Patanè agrees. He tells CNN that as of January 1, 2023, town will renew the permission for simply 9,000 scooters and cut back the variety of firms allowed to lease them to 3.
He says that town additionally plans to require a proportion of the scooters to be positioned within the suburbs and different areas so common residents can use them for what he refers to as “the final mile” which may take them from a subway cease to their houses or enable them to run fast errands with out leaping in a automobile.
“They’re a hazard to the folks, however they’re additionally an issue for town, for the great thing about town,” Patanè says. “The middle of town is a UNESCO heritage web site and may be very fragile and we now have to handle it.”
Ignoring the principles
A vacationer lately threw a scooter down the Spanish Steps.
Polizia Roma Capitale
In early June, two Individuals had been fined round $800 for throwing rental scooters down the Spanish Steps, inflicting about $26,000 price of harm to the delicate marble. The incident was caught on safety cameras and by passersby who noticed one of many vacationers throw the heavy metallic scooter, capturing the sound of it crashing into the steps.
The e-scooters are primarily utilized by vacationers and younger folks, Patanè says.
And the principles are sometimes ignored, particularly people who prohibit use on sidewalks and restrict riders to 1 particular person. Renters are additionally alleged to be 18 years previous. And town can’t oblige the rental firms to offer helmets, which means only a few folks put on them.
Police checks are rare and fines are uncommon for scooter customers breaking the essential guidelines since it’s troublesome to implement the no-sidewalk rule when the scooters are usually parked on the sidewalks.
They look like successful with vacationers although. “To journey round, particularly the historic middle the place it is virtually inconceivable in a automobile, that is it,” Walter Hughes, from Dallas, Texas advised CNN.
“For that [two- or three-mile radius] that you just journey quick round, you can’t discover a parking spot for a automobile, it is too scorching to stroll for 5 hours, so that is it.”
Not everybody agrees.
Taxi drivers who’ve needed to weave by pedestrians and mopeds for years say the e-scooters are a far greater drawback.
Eduardo Conticello has had many near-misses together with his taxi and wish to see scooters abolished utterly.
He tells CNN that they usually cease quick in entrance of him or fall over. “After I see them I drive very, very slowly,” he explains, which provides time to his journeys, which means his passengers pay extra due to them. “They’re very harmful.”
However life within the everlasting metropolis has by no means been notably straightforward in its 2,800 years. Rome wasn’t inbuilt a day, as they are saying. And its issues will not be solved in a single both.