Roma (CNN) – Rome, the eternal city, has been invaded, conquered and sacked countless times since its founding nearly 2,800 years ago. Each attack leaves scars all over the city, from the ruins of the Roman Forum to the cave of the Circus Maximus, where chariots once raced.
The current invasion of the Italian capital is being driven by e-scooters – more than 14,000 of them – state of the art chariots that block sidewalks, unnerve drivers and kill.
Since the introduction of rental scooters as an alternative to public transport during the Covid pandemic three years ago, four people have died while riding them, said Eugenio Patane, a member of the city council of the Rome City Hall. City emergency departments treat at least one serious scooter-related injury every three days, health officials say.
Yet only 2% (about 270) of rental scooters are used daily.
The Rome City Hall has issued licenses to seven companies responsible for replacing batteries, repairing, transporting scooters to high-traffic areas and catching them from the city’s Tiber river.
Scooters that are not in use are the biggest problem, especially for the disabled.
“A Series of Fears”
Officials say only 2% of Rome’s 14,000 rental scooters are in use.
Lorenzo Di Cola/NurPhoto/Getty Images
As Giuliano Frittelli, head of the Italian Union of the Blind and Visually Impaired, navigates with his cane among a half-dozen scooters scattered on the sidewalk outside his downtown office, he tells CNN they are a death trap for people who can’t see.
“The first problem is wild parking,” says Frittelli, tapping the base of the scooter with a cane, explaining that their unusual shape also makes it easy for a visually impaired person to trip over them.
He also says that because they are electric, they are silent, which also poses a threat to those who cannot see.
“You can’t hear them, so you can’t go around them,” says Frittelli, recalling an incident when a scooter passed a blind man so close that his frightened guide dog jumped off the sidewalk, causing what he called a “series of frights.” “Fortunately, it didn’t end in bodily harm.
The Frittelli Group is working with the City of Rome to make it mandatory to park scooters only in designated areas. He also wants them to be adjusted to generate at least 30 decibels of noise so that it can serve as a warning of their approach.
He says it’s not just the disabled, including those in wheelchairs, who find it difficult to navigate the streets when the sidewalks are littered with scooters. Elderly people and parents pushing baby carriages are also affected.
Giuliano Frittelli (left) wants scooters to be parked in designated areas.
Eugenio Patane, a member of the road council of Rome City Hall, agrees with him. He says…