22 July 2008

Irritated by...

i motorini

The longer I live in Italy the more I find motorcycle and motor scooter riders here to be a nuisance. With the size of roads and price of fuel this mode of transportation is very practical but the drivers sometimes make you wish you had a bat that you could whack them with as they wiz by.

I will admit that when we lived in the US I had two instances when motorcycles hit me, both times the driver was inattentive just before the impact when they hit the rear of my vehicle. Fortunately both times there were no serious injuries. I know several people who own motorcycles in the US and they are always very cautious riders and my experience with most riders there was that they were courteous. Many riders in the US complain about the car and truck drivers who pay little attention to motorcycles.

In Italy you have to pay attention to i motorini, they are everywhere. Italian drivers are aggressive in their cars and motorini are no exception, perhaps even more so. For those who have driven in Roma you are familiar with the motorini that crowd an intersection while waiting for a traffic light to change then speeding off to the next stop. Many people find this to be an unsettling experience with motorini zipping by their vehicle on both sides. The cute motorini that Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn rode in Roman Holiday was a Vespa, Italian for wasp!

On the roads outside the city the experience is much the same with motorcycles that appear to think they are in a race and must pass as many vehicles as they can, irregardless if that means passing on your right or left and into the lane of oncoming traffic. He who passes the most gets the most points?!

What I really do not like is the motorini in the centro storico who have complete disregard for any and all traffic signs or restrictions. I truly believe they think no rules apply to them and if their motorini can fit then they should be able to ride it anywhere. We have had more than one instance where we are on a clearly marked pedestrian only alley and will have a rider squeeze by us. The only places the polizia seem to enforce the rules are in the two main piazze of Ascoli Piceno which are pedestrian only.

Friends and family from the US who have visited us are known to jump out of the way of the sound of an oncoming motorini, for me as a pedestrian I have as much right to be there so I tend to hold my ground. You get used to the breeze as the motorino zips past you, sometimes it is refreshing on a hot summer day!


Anonymous said...

oh i love that vintage looking vespa...and i had no idea that vespa meant wasp in italian!

Gil said...

They are named after the wasp because of the sound that they make.

Anonymous said...

Because of the price of gas I am seeing more and more scooters in small town USA. It's interesting because in this area they can't even be used year round.

Bryan said...

The Vespa for a wasp and the 3 wheel Ape for the bee: the Vespe in both forms swarm.

Anonymous said...

How how nice! I just discovered your blog. I'm an Italy fanatic and don't even know why. I am getting married in November. We are going to Rome (and on a cruise) for our honeymoon but staying an extra day in Rome. I'm so excited. I've added your blog to my Google Reader and look forward to reading your every post.