These bright and sunny days are just the time for a bike ride—if your bike hasn’t been stolen, that is. Welcome to Bologna, a city known for its food, prestigious university and vibrant bike culture with a darker side.
Lots of accommodations are made just for bikers. Riders have their own lanes on the sidewalks, and sometimes even dedicated traffic lights.
“Bikes are part of the DNA of what it means to be Bolognese,” said Spring Hill College administrative staff director Todd Waller, who supervises a U.S. study abroad program. “It’s part of people’s physical health, gasoline is six dollars a gallon and it’s a cheaper and healthier way to get around that is also good for the environment.”
Bologna’s thriving bike culture compares favorably with cities like New York, Paris and Amsterdam. The Emilia Romagna region of which it is a part enjoys a long tradition of biking culture, while Bologna Mayor Virginio Merola is aiming to increase bike routes around Bologna.
Bicycles are one of the primary methods of travel around this city, because bikes are more affordable than cars, and easier to maintain. And it’s easier for students to get around on bikes than via cars or public transportation.
But the enjoyment of bike riding can be ruined by the threat of bike thieves. It costs the equivalent of $45 to $55 to buy a new bike, or $5 to $25 to get a stolen one. In Bologna’s Piazza Verdi, in the heart of the university district, thieves openly hawk stolen bikes to potential customers. Several students interviewed in the university district talked about their experiences with bike theft. All asked that their last names not be used.