The Bicycle


The Bicycle

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

I have rented a bicycle from the school at the wonderfully low price of 10 euros a week and I store it in the garage. I ride to and from school, to the gym and to the Coop to buy the few groceries that I need for the week. Riding through the center of Bologna to and from school is a bit of an adventure.

The streets inside the walls are almost all cobblestones in one form or another and as you might imagine it is a rather bumpy ride. Today I rode to the center to meet Barbara and Vittorio for lunch and rode through the piazza Santo Stefano which is closed to traffic other than feet and bicycles. There for a stretch it’s not just cobblestones but actual stones, i.e. roundish things and that is REALLY bumpy. The traffic is really not bad since the drivers of every sort of vehicle from other bicycles to trucks are very aware of cyclists and provide adequate margin for safety when passing. I must say that once I did get a bit of an adrenalin rush when a bus passed me with no more than a foot to spare. 

The final challenge on the bike is to go up the hill on via Orsoni to the palazzo. I’ve yet to make it more than halfway up the hill even in the lowest gear and even then I am pretty sweaty. The rest of Bologna is pretty flat so while it is reasonable exercise it’s not all that strenuous. Today I did the hill halfway so I need to shower before I go out for aperitivo tonight.

Late breaking news; as I am writing this I have read that there will be a sciopero (strike) of the bus drivers (and perhaps other workers for the bus company) on Monday. This happened once before, about a month ago but that strike was only for 4 hours, this one will be almost all day. The strike starts at 8:30 and ends at 4:30 this time so traffic will naturally be bad and once the bus service restarts the buses will be so packed with people that it will be impossible to board one if it has been in transit for awhile. So thank God for the bicycle. It should be a nice day so it will be a great alternative.

One of my favorite teachers at school, Davide, had a great story. As a bit of background, there are a LOT of bicycles in Bologna. Not only are there lots of students but people well advanced years ride them as well. Both Cesarina and her husband Roberto regularly ride bicycles around town. The inevitable result is much the same as almost any U.S. city. Lots of bicycles get stolen. It is rare here as well as in California to see a bike not securely locked. Anyway Davide bought a bike that he loved. He then bought a really big strong chain that he described as almost more expensive than the bike. He locked it and then…. he lost the key! Now he just looks at it fondly.


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