Thursday, April 3, 2014

Biking in Bologna & feeling like a local

Arriving bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Bologna last August, I was determined to get a bicycle.

When I heard about an auction where you could buy refurbished bikes for about 50 euros each, I set off eagerly with my best bidding face on.

At the auction site I was faced with a throng of people brandishing hats, banners, flags, signs and party costumes. It was only when I saw the bikes, hundreds of them lined up, that I realized I was in the right place.
Check out those wheels
I eyed the first bike and raised my hand, set to bid. But it turns out that at a bolognese auction, the bikes go not to the highest bidder, but to the audience member who manages to attract the attention of the auctioneer.

Armed with my voice and another SAISer of considerable height, Roy Martin, I sat on his shoulders, waved my arms wildly and screamed at the top of my lungs. To no avail. It wasn’t until I found a discarded balloon and he found a box to wear on his head that we tasted success: two beautifully refurbished, vintage bikes.

Our lap of honor around Piazza Maggiore was jubilant, to say the least.
The Bologna bike auction

I was so pleased to have "won" a bike that I took to the streets immediately and have been cycling around Bologna (in a very leisurely fashion) ever since. It’s a great city to bike in. Distances are short so you can get pretty much anywhere within 10 minutes, and having a bike definitely makes you feel more like a local bolognese. Outside the city walls there are plenty of opportunities for the more serious cyclists, as well.

Now that the year is nearly over those of us with bikes are starting to think about how to pass them on. The Student Government Association has been working with a local project to come up with a handy solution for next year’s SAISers.

A group of local bike enthusiasts are developing a project that would allow students to rent bikes for the duration of their stay in Bologna, complete with equipment and a repair scheme. This would avoid the traumatic bicycle search at the beginning of the year and the dilemma over what to do with bikes at the end. And remove the temptation to go to the thriving black market for bikes.

Maude Morrison (BC14/DC15)

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