[Listening to: This Paralysis - Eagle-Eye Cherry - Sub Rosa]
Rome recently introduced a driving ban on Wednesdays between 3:00 and 7:00 in an effort to reduce the pollution in the eternal city (see An Englishman in Verona February 19th for more of the same). Yesterdays papers carried news that if Rome suffers more rain like we had on Thursday then they will introduce the same driving ban the next day, I think the theory is that weather that brings rain also keeps the pollution trapped, or maybe it's to save the wear and tear on the roads, which quite literally fall apart when it rains (as an aside, the only place I've ever seen it rain harder than Rome is New Zealand - I once hitched to Te Anau on a day that it rained 21" in 24-hours).
Unlike Verona, in Rome the ban applies to even numbered plates one week, odd the next. I'm not worried, I cycle to work twice a week in the winter and more in the summer - I'll just get on the bike. I cycled to the gym on Saturday and the pollution was terrible, you could almost taste it, so I am all for measures to reduce it.
In my view it needs more incentive though. Few companies offer any facilities to make people get to work under their own power. I'm lucky, I get to use a shower, and can keep suits at work, so still look presentable. Even in the UK little effort is made to incentify cyclists - the mileage allowance for cyclists should be higher than motorists for instance. Showers should be available, cyclists should have adequate dry storage closer to the workplace than cars, not an open bike rack in the far corner of the car park. Think about it, if you cycle to work then you are already getting some exercise, and employees who exercise are less likely to get sick.
Of course here in Rome you take your life in your hands (quite literally) when you cycle. Romans tend to use bikes on Sundays when the centre is closed to traffic. When I broke my back the second time (in one year - don't try this at home folks) after a car driver opened his door whilst fumbling in the footwell for some papers, the government agency that was supposed to pay for my sick leave refused with the justification that I should have either been driving a car or using public transport.
So, bring on the rain, and a carless Rome perhaps? As long as it snows in the mountains and doesn't rain. I got up at 6:30 this morning to go snowboarding, and when we got there it was raining, not snowing. Slushville.