Rome (CNN) – Rome, the eternal city, has been invaded, conquered, and plundered numerous times since its founding about 2,800 years ago. Each attack has left scars all over the city, from the ruins of the Roman Forum to the cave of Circus Maximus, where chariots once ran.
The current onslaught on the Italian capital comes from e-scooters – more than 14,000 of them – modern chariots that block the sidewalk, annoying and killing drivers.
According to Rome City Hall Mobility Councilman Eugenio Patten, rental scooters were introduced three years ago as an alternative to public transport during the Covid epidemic, so four people were killed while riding in them. Health authorities say at least one scooter-related major injury is treated every three days in the city’s emergency room.
And yet only 2% (about 270) of the foot scooters for rent are used on a daily basis.
Rome City Hall has licensed seven companies responsible for replacing batteries, making repairs, moving scooters into high-traffic areas and fishing in the city’s Tiber River.
These are scooters that are not used which is the biggest challenge, especially for the disabled.
Officials say only 2% of the 14,000 scooters rented in Rome are in use.
Lorenzo de Cola / NourPhoto / Getty Images
Giuliano Fritelli, head of the Italian Union for the Blind and Visually Impaired, navigating with a walking stick around half a dozen scooters on the sidewalk near his office in the city center, tells CNN that for those who don’t see, for them, they are death traps.
“The first problem is wild parking,” Fritley says when he taps his walking stick on the base of the scooter, explaining that their unusual shape also makes it easier for a visually impaired person to travel on them.
He also says that because they are electric, they are quiet, which is a danger even to those who cannot see.
“You can’t hear them so you can’t navigate around them,” Fritley says, recalling an incident when a scooter passed a blind man so close that his startling-looking dog jumped off the sidewalk, causing him to “panic.” “. “Luckily it didn’t end in a physical injury.
Frittelli’s group is working with Rome City Hall to make it mandatory for scooters to be parked only in designated stalls. It also wants them to produce a noise level of at least 30 decibels so that it can act as a warning of their approach.
He says it’s not just people with disabilities, including those in wheelchairs, who struggle to use the streets when the sidewalks are littered with scooters. Older people and parents are also affected by pushing the baby stroller.
Giuliano Fritelli, left, wants to make it mandatory for scooters to park at designated locations.
Rome City Hall Traffic Councilman Eugenio Pata agrees. He tells CNN that by January 1, 2023, the city will only renew the permit for 9,000 scooters and reduce the number of companies leasing them.
He says the city also plans to place a percentage of scooters in suburbs and other areas so that regular citizens can use it, referring to it as the “last mile” that can take them from subway stops to them. Homes or allow them to run fast works without jumping into the car.
“They are a threat to the people, but they are also a problem for the city, for the beauty of the city,” says Patane. “The city center is a UNESCO heritage site and it is very fragile and we have to take care of it.”
Ignoring the rules
Recently a tourist threw the scooter down from the Spanish steps.
Polyzia Roma Capitol
In early June, two Americans were fined about $ 800 for throwing a rental scooter under Spanish steps, causing a loss of about $ 26,000 to fragile marble. The incident was captured on security cameras and captured by pedestrians who saw one of the tourists throwing a heavy metal scooter and the sound of it colliding with the steps.
Patani says e-scooters are mainly used by tourists and youth.
And the rules are often ignored, especially those that prohibit use on the sidewalk and limit riders to one person. The age of the tenant is also assumed to be 18 years. And the city cannot force rental companies to provide helmets, meaning very few people wear them.
Police investigations are frequent and fines for scooter users violating basic rules are rare because it is difficult to enforce the no-footpath rule when scooters are normally parked on the sidewalk.
Yet they seem to be a hit with tourists. “Walking around, especially in a historic center where cars are almost impossible, this is it,” Walter Hughes of Dallas, Texas told CNN.
“For that [two- or three-mile radius] That you ride around so fast, you can’t find a parking space for a car, it’s too hot for a five hour walk, so this is it. ”
Not everyone agrees.
Taxi drivers who have had to go through pedestrians and mopeds for years say e-scooters are a big problem.
Eduardo Conticello misses a lot with his taxi and wants to see the scooter completely wiped out.
He tells CNN that they often make short stops or fall in front of him. “I drive very slowly when I see them,” he explains, adding time to his travels, meaning his passengers pay more because of him. “They are very dangerous.”
But life in the eternal city has never been so easy in its 2,800 years. Rome was not built in one day, as they say. And its problems will not be solved in one.