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Rome's cycling mayor closes Colosseum road to cars

"No other city would have turned the Colosseum into a roundabout."...

The other cycling mayor of a great city, Rome’s Ignazio Marino has begun an attempt to curb the car-domination of the Italian capital and consequent damage to its ancient monuments by banning cars from the road through the Forum to the Colosseum.

Mayor Ignazio Marino hopes to eventually turn the whole area into an archaeological park, according to the Guardian. Only bicycles, pedestrians, emergency vehicles, buses and taxis will be allowed to use the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

“We must chose whether we want cars or to value our monuments,” said Mr Marino.

A transplant surgeon before going into politics, Mr Marino was elected mayor of Rome in June of this year, and has drawn attention by cycling to meetings. The pedestrianisation of the route was one of the first decisions he announced after taking office. He has been able to implement the plan remarkably quickly.

“Today is the beginning of a dream. I believe we have a responsibility to keep the richness of history for the entire human kind - it is more important than a shortcut,” he said in an interview broadcast Saturday by the BBC.

Via dei Fori Imperiali was built by the dictator Benito Mussolini so he could more quickly get to his office north of the Capitoline Hill.

“I don’t think any other city in the world ... would have turned the Colosseum, probably the most famous monument on the planet, into a roundabout.”

“I say it with respect, but between the interest of someone who can’t stop in front of his newsagent in his car, and the protection of the Colosseum, I choose the latter,” Mr Marino said.

While the route is still open to some motor traffic, Mr Marino has said he would like to turn it into a pedestrians-only zone.

“Thanks to this pedestrianization project, Via dei Fori Imperiali will become the most stunningly beautiful boulevard in the world,” the City of Rome said on its project website. “Here is where it all started, and, here, today’s Rome is reborn”.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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