Great article by Alberto Fiorillo in Espresso about Rome’s new planned cycling ring road, the poorly named but well conceived GRAB. Here’s my quick translation.
The GRAB — Rome’s cycle ring road— will be ready for December 8. The urban bike lane project conceived by VeloLove in collaboration with Legambiente, Touring Club and many other formal and informal realities was in fact inserted by the City of Rome, as a top priority work for the jubilee, with work to start this summer.
The first effect of the realization of this light infrastructure – a ring of more than 44 kilometers that extends into the city center – will be to finally complete the green extension into the heart of Rome that already in the seventies was the center of battles by the likes of Antonio Cederna, Leonardo Benevolo and Giulio Carlo Argan: the transformation of the Appian Way into a pedestrian zone. Even more, this means “the transformation into a true archaeological park” – in quote the words of Cederna – “of the whole monumental area from the Appia Antica along Via Gregoriana (formerly called the Street of Triumphs), the Colosseum, the Forum Roman and the Imperial Forums, arriving practically at Piazza Venezia “.
The design idea of the GRAB, in fact, provides for the closure of the Appia Antica to traffic and the transformation of this 2300-years-old artery into an area for pedestrians, where the (few) vehicles in circulation give the right of way to those who walk and those who ride. Continuing along the bike ring road, you enter from Porta San Sebastiano along the street of the same name – already de-facto pedestrian for some time – and from there the bike path in Via delle Terme di Caracalla and then the Circus Maximus. The other big change promoted by GRAB is the creation of a pedestrian area at the foot of the Palatine. It will remove an entire lane of Via di San Gregorio (leaving the other the task of handling automotive mobility in both directions), thus returning charm and splendor at the entrance of the Colosseum from the Arch of Constantine, treated up to now as the B side of the amphitheater.
To do this walk – the same one that has captivated Goethe – it takes 40 minutes walking and 15 minutes by bike, that is if you can resist the temptation to stop along the way at the Palatine, the Circus Maximus, Caracalla, the Tomb of the Scipioni, the Aurelian walls, the Catacombs of San Callisto or to the grotto of Egeria. Today, with traffic, the chaos, and the noise the route is a brutal trek. In the future, with the GRAB, this will be a modern Grand Tour, returning, in the words of Cederna, dignity, respect and international prestige to the most extraordinary archaeological area of Italy. And that – one might add – returns to the city the ability to think and act big, looking forward to highlighting the strength of its past.
P.S. The stretch of GRAB described here is only one-tenth of the route. The rest of the GRA of the bike can be found at this link: http://velolove.it/grab/