Cycling cities – The Reggio Emilia way – Part 4: another ‘real ride’

Here I am again, showing you another real ride in Reggio Emilia. It was in August, but have not managed to write this before as September and October really are my busiest months (it is when my students sit for exams, complete their dissertations, and then I have to mark all of them…). It was a very typical Summer ride for me (I did it a number of times in that period, coming from different directions), from the city centre “Centro Storico” , where I did a bit of shopping, to a swimming pool, located in the village of Canali, and precisely in the Circolo Tennis Reggio Emilia (previous one was to a medical centre). Obviously, in the Bicycle Dutch blog, my main inspiration…there is also a ride to a swimming pool.

First of all, a map of the ride (I took two routes in two different days, A and B, see below, for the first part of the trip, and I am showing you bits of both), courtesy of openstreetmap.

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Distance from the Centro Storico on the top of the map to my destination at the bottom was about 6 kms according to google maps (no cycling option for Italy yet…).

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Departure point in Piazza del Monte, the core of the city and of the pedestrian zone, I continued along the Via Emilia towards East (this is the route B in the map). At the edge of the Centro Storico, a couple of minutes away from above, the first interesting intersection, where I had to turn right into Via Giacomo Matteotti. You have a video below.

The intersection is not too bad in my opinion, but would definitely benefit from a separated traffic light for people on bikes, reducing conflicts with vehicles turning right (you see an example of a conflict there). After the intersection, I continued along Via Matteotti on a fairly wide cycle lane.

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On your left you have the Stadio Mirabello, of the local football team AC Reggiana (which is now in fourth division and has another temporary name because of some bankruptcy rules…). I am very fond of that stadium because my dad was the general secretary of the team for 18 years and his office used to be there.

I then continued along Viale Luciano Manara always on a cycle lane until a round about, where a bad shared pavement separates you from the motor vehicles, at least…

It does become much better further ahead..

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The crossing you see in the pic above is where Route B and Route A join each other. Therefore, now I am going to show you some highlights of Route A (spoiler: it is much better than Route B). It begins from my favourite square in Reggio Emilia, Piazza Antonio Fontanesi, on the day of the organic farmers’ markets…

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Below is another bit of the piazza, and on the left you can see a number of bikes parked in everyone’s favourite spot, the porticoes…(where your old and rusty, but essential for life, bicycle is protected from the rain, the sun…).

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I went straight on and then turned left into Viale Montegrappa. It goes along the old walls (the few remaining bits, there behind the recycling bins), and it is basically a car park…(but there are some very beautiful houses along it).

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I then turned right into Via Tiziano and crossed the Circonvallazione (the inned ring road) into Viale Ettore Simonazzi. You can see a fair amount of people cycling there, and none of them is going to need a shower at destination, despite the heat….

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It was about 11AM and with a temperature already above 30 degrees Celsius, it was fairly pleasant to ride along a line of trees…

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You can see above that in Viale Ettore Simonazzi there is from left to right, a pedestrian way, a line of trees, and a bidirectional cycleway (also used by people on mobility scooter, which are a relatively rare view in the city).

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On the left in the pic above you can see the Gelateria “Cremeria Capolinea“, one of the best in the city. As in a proper gelateria, you do not see the ice-cream, as it is stored in the pozzetti. Good gelato does not need to look pretty and colourful, so you do not need to show it off. However, it does need to be stored properly. Back to the cycling infrastructure now…here is where the cycleway crosses Viale Risorgimento (with a set of traffic lights). Priority for people on bikes and foot is well marked there.

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And then continues very nicely….

You have certainly noticed the conditions of the tarmac there. I’ll talk about it at the end of the post. After the bit in the video above you continue left bordering a park along a very quite no through residential road, where you have a cycle lane (badly) painted on the right side (but you do ride next to the trees, and I could feel a bit of fresher air). Finally, you get to the crossing point where Route B and Route A joins (I told you Route A was better…).

I crossed the street there, and turned right into Viale Luciano Manara, where the cycleway is at first a bit narrow but then quickly goes back to be wider…

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I stayed on it going left back into Viale Ettore Simonazzi. There the cycleway is wide and pleasant enough (with the exception of the surface, but I am quite used to it). At the end, there is roundabout, which I passed to turn into Via Ernesto Che Guevara

In Via Che Guevara I rode on a shared path which has a relative more recent surface, a bit rough, but regular, so fairly pleasant to ride on.

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and well, those trees are going to provide a bit of shade at some point in the future. The path gets a bit narrower in some points, but you also get more shade…

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I then continued along Viale Rosa Luxemburg. The cycleway there is interesting and pleasant to ride (with the exception of the surface, as usual), and there are various features. At the end, an underpass enables you to go across a big roundabout.

As you can see in the video above (speed was 3x), I was at that point out of the city and into the countryside. A new retail centre is going to be built on the right side of Viale Rosa Luxemburg, and I hope that the cycleway is going to be resurfaced at least. I then continued into Via Alessandro Tassoni…

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There, the barrier separating people on bikes from motor vehicles is nice looking, and somehow matches the style of the villa there on the left (the building you see above is a chapel).

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The villa was beautifully restored some years ago under the direction of my family’s great friend, the Architect Carlo Galloni, who died recently.  And the cycleway gets wide again in front of it, with the good looking wooden barriers

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A little ahead, the barriers revert to the normal type, and the cycleway get narrower, and its surface poorer…

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…before opening a bit again in correspondence of a bridge (and for the guardrails’ geeks, you can see there is a wooden element there as well…).

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After the bridge, the village of Canali somehow begins, and you get into a 30Kph max zone (not really respected much, especially at that point)

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Again, you are well separated from motor vehicles there. A little further ahead, right before the village centre, the design is more pleasant and the shade was certainly welcome..

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I was almost at my destination, but needed to stop and buy lunch for my family. The little Conad Supermarket in Canali (as many other small supermarket in the area) is a heaven for that.

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You can have focaccia (that we call “gnocco”), pizza, erbazzone reggiano, gnocco fritto. Things are made on the premises or not too far. They are very nice people and make you sandwiches on the spot. They’ll weight the bread, and then the prosciutto, cheese, and veggies they put in. The result, about 12 euros for 4 sandwiches, two big bits of pizza and erbazzone, some fruits, and a bit of their wonderful ciambella alla ricotta.

After the supermarket, it was another couple of minutes to reach the swimming pool. I had to ride first on the main road. The 30kph speed limit is respected more there in the village centre, and a traffic light and speed bumps help a lot. However, when I cycled there with my daughter I did tell her to ride on the pavement…

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I then turned left and after about 200m in a residential street I arrived at my destination. Some bikes there, but definitely more cars (people say they drive because they have a lot of sports items with them…cargobikes are not very popular, although I did see one in my most recent trip).

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Time? well, about 18 minutes of fairly slow cycling (on an upright city bicycle that is about 40 years old…) from the very centre of the city (I did overtake a number of people though, as cycling in England has made me a bit of a faster cyclist). Canali is now a very fashionable area, with a lot of new housing developments, and growing population (+30% in the last 15 years), and the cycleway to the city centre (and beyond) could definitely be used more, not only by those travelling to/from the Circolo Tennis Reggio Emilia ( the cycleway does continue after the village centre for quite a while, with varying quality, but interventions to improve it are planned in the PUMS Piano Urbano per la Mobilita’ Sostenibile – The Sustainable Transport Urban Plan, which is now in a consultation phase).

In the two pics above you can see the condition of the streets’ surface. It is not really good across the city in general, and that is certainly the case of the cycleways. The surface keeps its (low) quality when it rains though, and very hot Summers and very cold Winters certainly do not help. A complete resurfacing and repaint of the priority markings is definitely needed. The ride was certainly pleasant (those were hot days, but not above 40 degrees as in the previous week) and felt safe enough.  And, for some other concluding points, you can see my previous post as well. For more info about the city, and its network of cycleways you can click here.

That’s it, thanks for remaining with me until this point. Please do use the box below if you have any comment or question.

All the very best

Alberto

19 November 2019

All opinions expressed in this post are my own and I have received no incentive whatsoever from any of the companies, organisations or businesses mentioned above

Here you can read about me, this is a bit about my research, and here you can see my publications. You can follow me on twitter here

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