Vienna and after, about Velo-city 2013

Yes, okay, it’s been a full week (and more) since returning from Vienna, where, as you will know by now, there was also Borrace di Poesia thanks to the 544 online votes that represented the project for the first time to the world, taking the victory of the Cycling Visionaries Awards in the Cycling and the Arts.

The fact is that I still have in my head the bicycle bells concert, I can still hear the rustle of thousands of wheels exploring the capital Vienna celebrating cycling, hear the echo of the words from the days of the conference where Members of the European Parliament (oh yeah), mayors and deputy mayors from all over Europe and not only spoke with a simplicity almost disheartening about city speed limits, 30kmh but also 20, but also of how and how much you should invest in intermodality, of how it should be normal to take your bike on the train or subway, as is the case in practice for pedestrian friends. Then, I still see models with dedicated bicycles and clothing in the evenings of Velostyle (yes, because the bike is also fashion, an accessory, creative, inventive and consequently economic, and not only in these areas).

Then, I still smile thinking about the cyclepaths of Vienna, that made me scream. On a couple of occasions, I admit, I did not understand how certain passages worked. They are made so well that it did not seem real that there was a small deviation, duly indicated, designed precisely to slide better. A couple of times I got off the bike and stood there like an idiot to observe (moving into the pedestrian area in order to avoid being sanded, quite rightly, by the bicycles riding like a rocket). Once again I thank the driver of the SUV which, on a stretch of road not cyclable, instead of sticking to the bumper, swearing and staying glued to the horn, slowed, waited for my turn signal and then followed at the same speed.

Then the Garden Party (where, in clique with the Spanish… the few Italians present were recognisable, but always with style!), the concert at Prater, the evening rain and the hot sun during the day. Ah, I have not finished writing to the hundreds of people I met, represented by the stack of business cards on my desk.

I still think of the cafeteria on two wheels (sponsored by a famous Italian brand, that Mittel-European one, let’s say) that I have never seen in Italy (I mean the cafeteria on two wheels, not the brand). The string quartet that accompanied the days of the conference (Rock me Amadeus!). Then, the jugs of water free, no plastic bottles, heck!. And again, the exhibitors, the moments of sociability and the good food, really good. Not to mention the Fahrradhaus, fixed information point, of meeting and exchanging cultures of the bike, all near the town hall of Vienna.

The list of the beautiful things you see, the things you learn, the suggestions and the advise you are given is infinite. It comes naturally to compare all this to my ramshackle Italy. Especially if we consider, the arguments about the bike from the new mayor of Rome compared to the European Parliament Members from ‘green’ Germany with their naturalness regarding the bicycle movement, as well their enlightening conference. Not to mention again, the organization and the great people of the staff of the Velo-City.

For Italy we were few, but good. There were the Fiab and Ciclobby, the friends of Cycle Magazine and representatives of Città in bici from Ferrara. Paolo Pinzuti for Salvaiciclisti  (keep an eye on the new project Bikeitalia, born from the union between his Piciclisti, Bicisnob and Amico in Viaggio), Federico Spin of  Re-Bike RomaInBici. And the Deputy Mayor and Councillor for Mobility of the city “base camp” of Borracce di Poesia (i.e. Pescara and he is Berardino Fiorilli).

On returning from Vienna, the first night for the stories with friends, I arrived at a beach bar and I could not find a place for bicycles. The guy at the entrance says: “There is a parking lot inside.” The first nice thing about summer. Now I find that another beach bar, in the next few days, inaugurates a new parking area, made just for customers who go to the beach by bike. On the weekend, knowing that there is always a frenzy of cars, that there are those who still cycle on the pavement, that the pedestrians, no one knows why, form clumps, of course, on the track and will respond to you badly if you point out that they are oh, so, wrong, I did a long ride on the bike path that runs along the coast. I lost count of the bicycles. I thought of when they were all scooters there instead, not so long ago.

So, to the old and new friends, as well as to reiterate the thanks for supporting and sustaining Borracce di poesia, I extend my best wishes. But without what I call “the barbershop syndrome”.

So, going to the barber for a shave should be a calming and relaxing experience except that the one I used to go to every time bored me with the same story: “I hate the bike, I used it when I was a boy when I could not drive a car, now I go only by car. Who uses the bike is a loser.” Last time I blurted out and I left with still all the foam on the face. His salon is no more, I do not know what happened. I would have paid his ticket for Vienna, where I heard no one haughtily brag about using the bike, to walk, to travel by public transport. Where, yes, someone mentioned the fact that with the crisis, the bike also helps you save. But the point is not so much that but it’s this: “You know, I move by bike”. So what? Why bother? Isn’t it normal in in your neck of the woods?

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