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Rome – a Smart City starting to get into a Twizzy

August 1, 2014

It’s been a while since I produced an automotive related post but a recent trip to Rome has reminded me just how ripe things are for a revolution.

smart_romeThe people of Rome don’t do cycling. In fact, seeing someone riding the streets on a bicycle of any pedalled variety is a rarity. What they do love however is small cars and scooters.

The country that gave us iconic cars like the Fiat 500 and the Vespa and Lambretta scooter brands has clearly embraced other small four, three and two wheeled vehicles, most notably Smart cars.

Rome must be the Smart car capital of the world and it is easy to see why the narrow cobbled streets and lack of large open parking areas or multi-story car parks have led to such an uptake of compact two seated vehicles that up half the space of the average family car.

twizzy_romeHowever, although willing to use compact and economic vehicles to travel the city streets very few of them are electric  which in such a beautiful and historic location is quite a shame at this point in time.

The noise levels in the enclosed streets are ear splitting at times and the fumes, particularly from smoky two stroke scooter engines, can become overpowering at busy junctions.

During four days of exploring the city, mainly on foot, I only saw one electric vehicle – a Renault Twizzy – on an equally rare charging point and managed to spot just one hybrid scooter amongst the many thousands of motorcycles lining the streets and coming at me in waves when daring to step onto the pedestrian crossings.

hybrid_romeQuite a few of the main tourist sites, including the Trevi Fountains and a large section of the Coliseum, were buried under scaffolding on this visit as the City invests more in keeping its ancient heritage in good order. Fortunately they had set-up a coin collecting pool at the Fountains for the traditional ‘return to Rome’ wish and I duly added mine.

My wish on returning to the City in a few years time is to see many more small/single person electric vehicles trying to run me over on the crossings but I guess this is not going to happen without the re-charging infrastructure being put in place and also I should imagine that in a country that designs, builds and loves fast, red, iconic petrol guzzling machines there is a lot of winning over of hearts and minds to be done too.

bikes_rome

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