Zero Waves only at San Marco, but in the lagoon there is an emergency


In the Bacino the patrols are working, but traffic has surpassed all limits. Dangerous motorboat waves at Sant’Elena, the Tessera canal and Fondamente Nuove.

By Alberto Vitucci

VENICE. The Bacino di San Marco is quiet, as a result of the “Zero Wave” policy. A patrol of officers on board an ACTV motorboat invites drivers to moderate their speed. Yesterday morning, as in the past few days, that part of the city was almost silent and spared the waves. But in the rest of the lagoon – and in the internal channels – the situation has become an emergency. The problem of motorboat waves is not resolved. And the growth in the number of motorboats in circulation – and in their velocity – requires rapid and radical solutions.

The Controls: The canal patrolmen do what they can. There are no more than 30 (out of 450), and this means that each day more than two patrols are active, sometimes only one. It is impossible to get control of the waters in this way.

GPS and Cameras: The only serious deterrent, say those in the trade, would be a GPS on board all boats offering public transport and on other boats with licenses from the City, and an efficient system of automatic speed checking – with cameras. The Argos system, designed ten years ago, does not work. This is because it requires the presence of an operator. Motorboat drivers have filed suit against the use of GPS.

Priorities: The fight against traffic and waves is not considered a priority by the Administration. In the long list of performance awards given to city officers there is much mention of public order and the seizure of goods from unauthorized wandering merchants. Little mention is made of controls. Even new officers that are taken on have been for the most part posted on the terraferma, to perform the roles of public order and patrolling.

Unclear Rules: The plethora of rules and regulations put out in the past few years are not always clear about what types of behavior are not admissible. For example the provision that bans tourist rental motorboats from traveling down the Canal Grande “in caravan” has never been applied.

The Appeals: With a good lawyer anyone who is fined for an infraction of the regulations or of the speed limits can get a reprieve from the Justice of the Peace. This is also because of the unclear rules. The last appeal challenged a fine because according to the lawyers it should have been applied like the limits for streets, with a tolerance of 5 kmh, not 2. Thus while the limit for taxis is set at 7 kmh, one can actually go 12.

The Traffic Plan: We are still waiting for the new Traffic Plan announced by the Mayor. There will be new limits on access to the internal passages and channels in delicate areas, which are at this point invaded by “heavy machinery” which are destroying the banks. The proposal is not yet ready. “We don’t want to punish but to make the groups responsible”, said the Mayor.

The Traffic: This is not just a problem of speed. It is also a problem of water traffic which is now unsustainable for the city of water. There are tens of thousands of trips every day, the majority of which are vaporetti, taxis, or tourist rental motorboats. The limits of security have been surpassed, but the limitations don’t arrive. The Ztl was applied in the terraferma, but in the water it is only theoretical.

Source: La Nuova Venezia, 20 June 2018

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