Biking in Rome sounds good and romantic but it’s not very practical. Rome is not flat, its center was actually built on seven hills. Furthermore, our traffic is a little crazy compared to most Western countries, drivers are very unruly and biking is seriously dangerous.
Biking can be done within Rome’s many parks, of course, or following bike lanes which are not many and not well kept. Biking is Rome is quite an effort, honestly.
But our new mayor, Ignazio Marino, loves his bicycle and uses it daily to go to work, in Campidoglio.
Soon after coming into a office, a few months ago, he became very famous for his plan to close one of the main downtown roads of Rome: Via dei Fori Imperiali, the scenic avenue built by Mussolini, that connects the Colosseum and piazza Venezia, the square where he held his biggest rallies, while it was ideally meant to show that the Old and the New (i.e Fascism’s) Roman Empire were linked.
Shutting down Via dei Fori Imperiali to traffic is a very controversial move. Downtown Rome was built many centuries before cars were even conceived, therefore it is not very automobile-friendly in general. If you close one of the few wide roads, traffic will definitely worsen.
But it is also true that having a bike and pedestrian heaven in the middle of the Roman Forum would also be fantastic for visitors.
It pretty much depends on whether you see Rome’s center just as a tourist destination or a part of the city where 500,000 people live and work. We think that closing Via dei Fori Imperiali on Sundays and holidays, as other mayors already did, is a reasonable compromise.
Marino also wants to shut down the so called Tridente, the three roads that originate from Piazza del Popolo: Via di Ripetta, via del Babuino and Via del Corso. A very ambitious goal that would disrupt the life of many Romans but would probably be welcomed by tourists who could appreciate Rome’s wonders without honking cars and speeding scooters.
Again, there is a basic choice to make here: shall downtown Rome become an heritage and archaeology park or one of the very few historical city centers where people still work and live?
We think that most of the fascination of downtown Rome is due to the fact that many, real people still inhabit it.
Anyway, in any other advanced city the mayor would have first outlined a new, improved public transport plan, before closing certain areas of the city to cars and scooters. But this was not the case here in Rome. He actually delayed the works for the construction of a new metro line that should cross the city center!
Needless to say via dei Fori Imperiali and the Trident roads would be fantastic, albeit short, biking paths to explore some of the best areas of Rome.
With regards to exisiting bike lanes, we would actually recommend you to choose one that leads you out of town. The Ponte Milvio – Castel Giubileo bike lane will show you a part of northern Rome unknown to many Romans and travellers. The Tor di Quinto area features many sport clubs and is very green. The 10 km bike lane will also show you an old brick factory and a wilder Tiber.
A few hundred meters before the start of the lane you can also rent your bike at a stand run by one of the country’s main environment protection associations, Legambiente.
If you prefer to stay in the city center, the Tiber’s banks are an ideal riding place, far from traffic and noise.
A very quiet and scenic biking opportunity is also offered by the Appian Way, the archaeology park in Southern Rome, which is permanently closed to traffic. The bike rental shop marks the start of the path.
The most popular appointment for bike lovers is the last Friday of the month with the Roman section of Critical Mass.
But before that, on September 19, you can also join the Bike to Work event, part of the European Mobility week that runs from September 16 to the 22nd.