From Piaggio’s red Vespa, cult of the 1980s, the pedal-assisted bikes and electric scooters together are sharing form. This is the evolution of the most popular means of transport among young people in Rome
and also throughout Italy. For entire generations, freedom of movement has been
represented by the moped, and today the bicycle is the protagonist, once again,
becoming a new, essential and widespread means of transport. The "anticavallo", as
the journalist Gianni Brera defined it, for its practicality and because it gives
everyone the chance to move around. In the history of means of transport, the
bicycle occupies two records; that of being the most widespread means of transport
in the world and that of being the most ecological. And now, the two least polluting
existing wheels, together with the scooter, have been relaunched in the mobility
strategies of all the capitals of the world.
Even in Rome, in phase 3 of the post Coronavirus reopening, the relaunch is total.
Especially to lighten public transport and as an alternative to private and motorized
transport. Because it is considered one of the solutions to reduce pollution and
manage road problems. The result is that a new way of moving, totally intermodal, is
spreading in the Capital: private bikes, shared vehicles, public transport. At the
moment of the affirmation of the bicycle as an instrument of ecological and
alternative mobility, it is almost necessary to retrace its history. The ancestor of
the bicycle, which today is once again revolutionizing mobility, dates back to 1817 and
to a German baron, but the first drawing is due to Leonardo da Vinci, in the Codex
Atlanticus of 1490: a "machine" with two wheels, a wooden axle that holds them
together, a handlebar and a kind of chain that connects the pedals to the rear wheel.
In the recent past, the bicycle has already been a symbol, a cult for several
generations of the last century, especially when cycling was the most popular sport
and ignited passions and fans, such as the contrast between Coppians and Bartalians
that involved fans in the forties and fifties. "Totò at the Giro d'Italia" in 1948 by
Mario Mattioli brought back that atmosphere. Many films of the Italian cinema , with
unforgettable titles, recount the strength of the bicycle.
In Rome, scooters have changed the way they travel to electric scooters for hire.
Sustainable and shared mobility in the city has an extra element. Along with public
transport, cycling, sharing cars, motorcycles and bicycles, there are now also
scooters, useful for short trips. There are already 4 thousand managed by four
different operators (Helbiz, Lime, Bird and Dott). Users start with an app on their
mobile phone that allows them to locate a scooter on the map, then just scan the QR
code and unlock it with a button. For everyone, the cost is 1 euro to unlock, then 15 to
25 cents per minute. Each operator has activated subscriptions or discounts. To
drive these vehicles, you must be at least 14 years old. Up to 18, a helmet is
compulsory. They can circulate on urban roads where there is a limit of 50 km. The
maximum speed is 25 km/h, reduced to 6 km/h in pedestrian areas.
In the evening, it is mandatory to make yourself visible.
Practical and faster means of transport in the city - more and more pedal-
assisted bike sharing, especially on short trips to bus or metro stops. But also
for longer journeys, by bike along the bike lanes already realized with Pums,
and also the transitional lanes of the extraordinary Campidoglio plan. For 20-
year-olds, smartphones in hand and many downloaded applications, the system
is a winner: "This is the map where I can find a red jump bike” explains
Damiano, a first-year student at university. “Within this perimeter I can book
the two-wheeler closest to my position, which I can then use. Once identified,
I decide according to my needs, whether to book it and rent it within 20
minutes, or take it right away''. Damiano uses the bike in intermodal mode, as a
complement to metro and regional railways.
A futurist and dadaist symbol - The cyclist and his bicycle, fused in the design
and at the same time dissolved in the vortex of colour that enhances speed.
The "beautiful speed" loved by the artists of Futurism, not only in the
representation of engines. This is testified by the "Dynamism of a cyclist" of
1913 by Umberto Boccioni who, during the First World War, with other
Futurist comrades, enlisted in the cyclist-car battalion.
Fortunato Depero, another exponent of Futurism, dedicates several works to the
vortex generated by the bicycle in space, from "Ciclista", a watercolour of 1922, to
"Ciclista attraverso la città" of 1945. Depero was also involved in the production of
drawings for advertising and created a series of collages for the then established
Bianchi bicycle brand. In the same years in which Boccioni painted his cyclist, the
Frenchman Marcel Duchamp, one of the most representative of the Dadaist
movement, created a work in metal, wood and paint, his first ready-made. Title: "Roue
de bicyclette" the bicycle wheel. Today at the New York’s MoMa there is a second
version of the fifties original work which was lost in Paris.