The Italian Almanac

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The Joy of Biking

Italian Premier Mario Monti gave a strong endorsement to improving cycling conditions in Italy. "Italy must devote serious attention to 'light transportation', as is already the case in other parts of Europe, with regard to funding various projects linked to bike paths," said Monti. "The government is committed to promoting policies of sustainable transport and reducing street accidents that involve cyclists".

The premier, a known bike enthusiast, was writing to the grassroots group #salvaiciclisti, which organized a pro-bike rally in Rome that attracted thousands of demonstrators. "Although I no longer have the chance to ride my bike as I used to, I understand the challenges that cyclists confront, especially in big cities," he wrote.

Unlike Northern Europe, renowned for pristine bike paths and a large urban-cycling population, Italy's cities are more famous for automobile congestion that leaves little room on the road for alternative transportation.

"Bikes are an intelligent form of transportation, both from an economic and environmental point of view," Monti said.