Venice

Venice tightens gondola traffic after fatal crash

'Safety serious, but Grand Canal still a road' says mayor

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 prevention. 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 reconstruction. 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 episode...is 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".

Lascia il tuo commento

Condividi le tue opinioni su Gazzetta del Sud online

Caratteri rimanenti: 400

Le altre notizie

i più letti di oggi

Natalina tornava dal lavoro

Natalina tornava dal lavoro

di Salvatore De Maria