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Bicycling from Mestre to Venice
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Is it possible to get to Venice on bicycle? For now a true bike path from Mestre to Venice does not exist. For years the local chapter of FIAB [Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle] has called for the creation of a bicycle connection, ultimately without success; in fact the situation has worsened, for instance the construction of the new viaduct of Via Torino has resulted in the destruction of a section of bike path at (*)VEGA and recent projects have led to the destruction of another section of bike path between the maritime port and VEGA (the Venice Fair).

On the bridge that crosses the lagoon, connecting Venice to the mainland, there is in effect a double bike lane achieved by using the old sidewalks along the sides of the statale [state highway], from which they are physically separated by a guardrail. The two bike lanes are not exactly in ideal condition, the one going towards Venice in the final segment becomes a narrow passage between the guardrail and the railing perched over the lagoon with a pavement of broken slabs; the bike lane heading towards Mestre doesn’t have that narrow stretch near Venice, for the simple reason that here the bike lane doesn’t exist altogether: coming from Piazzale Roma the first section follows along the statale in close contact with traffic and a very dangerous situation.

During 2012 work was completed for the placement of streetcar tracks from Mestre to Venice. The good news is that the bike path on the old sidewalk has been respected and remained usable even during construction. This would be a good opportunity to extend the bike path from the bridge and the VEGA grounds to the port of Marghera which is the ugliest section for cyclists (the space is available). The bad news is that the segment of bike path next to the railroad tracks and before VEGA was destroyed to make way for another construction area further worsening this connection.

On May 19, 2011 the City of Venice had presented a very ambitious project for a two-way bike path on a large suspended catwalk along the south side of the bridge, connecting VEGA with the park of San Giuliano, a project that has remained in planning for a year.

On December 21, 2012, the day that some had forecast as the end of the world, the City of Venice presented a new, more modest plan for a bike connection from Mestre to Venice, in which the suspended catwalk would be limited only to the final few hundred meters corresponding to the narrow passage described above, a passage so narrow that a two-way bike lane would be impossible. For the remainder the bike route would use the old sidewalk, as now, and once on the mainland would follow route (2) as described below. The construction work should last 12 months and the bike path should be ready by 2013 … should.

But being of the mind, “I will believe it when I see it with my own eyes” I will describe three, routes that I know are currently available, because I personally have explored them:

  1. From Mestre take Viale San Marco which has a bike lane along the left side; upon arriving at the San Giuliano rotary you will find yourself in the middle of vehicular traffic; take the road to the right that takes you to the San Giuliano overpass, at the end of which veer left for the ramp connection that takes you to the statale which you need to get on again for a few hundred meters before arriving at the cross-lagoon bridge; it is one of the most severe of all the segments, the road veers to the right, traffic is heavy, cars, city buses, tour buses, and TIR’s [double-length tractor trailers] all coming at high speed and forcing the cyclist tight against the guardrail; at the end a Hotel Reservation service, housed in a wooden booth, marks the end of the nightmare; after the information booth a dirt path allows one to ascend to the bike lane of the bridge created from the old sidewalk, described above.
  2. Follow Via Torino to the new overpass over the train tracks which has a bike lane on the left; this bike lane continues all the way through the underpass below the small train station of Porto Marghera, which is useful to be able to pass under the statale and to emerge at the exhibit pavilions of VEGA (the Venice science and technology fair); here you pass among the various fair exhibit halls and at the end you turn left and immediately after, on the right, you will come to Via dell’Elettrotecnica, which follows parallel to the statale, between parking garages and piers, and then turning right [south] onto Via dei Petroli; after passing a parking garage for tour buses take Via dell’Idraulica to the left which takes you onto SR 11 just after its connection with the San Giuliano overpass; from this point on, the route is the same as No. 1, above.
  3. From Marghera follow Viale Fratelli Bandiera to the end which takes you right to the FS train station of Mestre and which connects to the extremely busy statale; take the overpass and at the end, on the right, you will find a short bike path that will take you to VEGA, after which follow the previous route.

On the other hand, imagining a new bike path altogether, two ideal solutions would be:

Similar projects have been presented during recent years by several architects and organizations, but to no avail, more due to lack of interest than lack of funds, as you can read in the article from the Gazzettino di Venezia of 22 February 2010, cited below.

Personally, I clearly prefer the second solution, which would be ideal for those who live in Venice, and in Cannaregio, which is the most populous of the Venetian sestieri [districts]; the first solution is certainly preferable to the many cyclists who come from the mainland and ride across the bridge to reach the Tronchetto and to catch the ferry to the Lido.

It is not science fiction, since similar solutions are common throughout Europe, including in Italy (e.g. the lakeside boardwalk next to the railroad tracks in Mantua). [and the United States. RB]



References and links

Venice Gateway for Science and Technologies, the Italian scientific and technological park with over 200 companies. X