Martedì, 25 Settembre 2018

Venice tightens gondola traffic after fatal crash


(By Christopher Livesay)
Venice, August 26 - Venice plans to limit traffic
in the Grand Canal, the mayor said Monday, following the death
earlier this month of a tourist aboard a gondola that crashed
with a water bus.
According to Mayor Giorgio Orsoni, the city will soon
announce restrictions for boats in the major thoroughfare during
peak traffic, and gondolas will be permitted only after a
certain hour in the morning.
Boat congestion near the Rialto Bridge was blamed as a
factor behind the crash that killed 50-year-old Jaochim Vogel
from Germany on August 17.
Blood and urine tests from the gondolier, Stefano
Pizzaggia, showed he was under the influence of cocaine and
hashish at the time.
He may face involuntary manslaughter charges for the crash,
which, in addition to killing a Vogel, threw his wife and three
children into the water, sending the three-year-old to the
hospital with minor injuries.
Following the crash gondoliers set up a makeshift memorial
to the father, including a pink shoe the toddler lost in the
water, and tied black ribbons to their boats in his memory.
Last month the gondoliers' association announced possible
drug and alcohol testing after a series of complaints.
The move was said to come in response to a video posted to
YouTube of a group of gondoliers allegedly hazing an aspiring
assistant by forcing him to strip off his clothes and swim in a
canal off St Mark's Square.
Drugs or alcohol were suspected to have been involved.
The city and local associations hope coming after substance
abusers while clearing up canal congestion will make Venice's
storied waterways a safer place to travel.
"Pulling back the many little piers that have been made
over the years, thus widening the lateral spaces and the margins
of safety in favour of circulating (boats) would widen space
for moving boats and reduce accident risk," said Captain Nicola
Falconi, president of the Institution for the Conservation of
the Gondola and Care for the Gondoliers of Venice, which held an
extraordinary board meeting last week on safety and accident
On Monday the mayor said the city was in the process of
measuring the feasibility of widening narrow passageways - such
as where the recent crash took place - by removing structures
such as small docks.
Falconi also calls for outfitting water buses with bow
thrusters, propellers that enable boats to turn more easily and
without added forward motion.
A sudden turn gone awry appears to have played a part in
the dynamic of the deadly accident, according to a preliminary
But no matter what measures are introduced, the mayor said
it's important to remember that the Grand Canal is essentially a
busy highway, not to be confused with your average stream.
"The painful and dramatic being dealt with
seriously, but without overdramatizing it, because the Grand
Canal is a street, the principle artery of the city, with its
traffic problems," said Orsoni.
Nevertheless, he said, "we must introduce remedies to keep
traffic from hurting those around it".

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