Kayak ban in Venice – new rules in force from tomorrow

The recent kayaking ban on the Grand Canal and other canals has been partially overturned.

The new rules are explained here. They will be in effect from tomorrow morning, April 23rd. The formal publication of the new rules are on the city’s web site:

Disciplina generale della navigazione nei rii e canali a traffico esclusivamente urbano della Z.T.L. lagunare, Testo Unico delle disposizioni in materia di traffico acqueo, sostituisce con modifiche la regolamentazione precedente costituita dalle ordinanze n° 310/2006, 402/2013, 91-92-93-94-95-96/2015 e altre disposizioni specifiche.

Simone Costantini

Altare SimoneIn Venice there’s a lot of boat traffic, and of course accidents happen. Especially after dark.

Ten years ago, on April 15th 2005, Simone Costantini, a young gondoliere from the Lido, was on his way back from work in his motorboat, when hit a briccola in the lagoon near San Giorgio Maggiore.

He was alone, nobody knows exact what happened, but he probably ended in the water, lost conscience and drowned. He was 27.

This was all before I came to Venice, and I never knew him. However, there’s a small shrine on the briccola, very often with fresh flowers, that I pass on almost all the tours we do.

There have been several other fatal accidents in the lagoon in the years I’ve been here. Probably a few each year.

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Kayaking ban in Venice – new rules

The rules for paddling in Venice city will be moderated from April 20th.

The new rules were decided by the city executive on April 3rd, published officially on April 9th and they’ll be executive ten days after publication.

The kayak/canoe/dragon/sup ban in the Grand Canal and other canals will be reduced to the hours 8am-3pm on weekdays and 8am-1pm on Saturdays. On Sundays and holidays there are no limits.

Venezia interdizioni kayak - percorsi blu

There’s a series of minor canals designated as “blue” canals, reserved for non motorised boats, running north to south through the city centre, and it will be allowed to cross the Grand Canal in proximity with these “blue” canals, giving precedence to all other traffic, even in the hours where normal navigation on the Grand Canal is banned. In this way it is possible to move about the city also before 3pm on weekdays.

All the rest of the city is available for paddlers at all times.

The new rules seem to indicate that it will be obligatory to carry at all times (also by day) a white light, visible at 360°, to be lit between sunset and sunrise.

The ban has not been lifted completely, but changed from a blanket ban on certain canals to a system of time limits, which is not really different from what gondolas, taxis and goods haulers also have to abide by, so I don’t think we can really complain. We’re not treated worse than other categories of traffic in the city.

Continue reading Kayaking ban in Venice – new rules

Kayaking ban in Venice – the city’s proposal

The City of Venice has issues a wide ban on kayaks, canoes, SUPs, dragon boats and more.

Yesterday I had a meeting with a representative of the municipal government, sufficiently high up in the hierarchy to be able to influence municipal policies. While the meeting itself was rather inconclusive, there was a recognition that there is a real problem to solve, and another meeting will be called later, with both politicians and technicians present, in an attempt to find a solution.

The proposal from the municipal administration is to ease the ban a bit, allowing free passage for everybody after 5pm on Monday to Friday, after 1pm on Saturdays and all day on Sunday.

We have no idea whether they’ll stick with this or if we can still make suggestions. We will no doubt make our suggestions.

For Venice Kayak the proposed modifications will be worth very little. We will have to move our longer tours to later hours, and the viable season for longer tours will be cut from 7-8 months a year to 3-4 months, if we are to avoid returning after dark.

Kayaking ban in Venice – dialogue with the city administration

Venice has issued a ban on kayaks, canoes, dragon boats and more, which is effective from Sunday, March 1st.

Currently it is illegal to go by kayak, canoe or dragon boat on the Grand Canal and several other canals in the city.

As a consequence, the city’s canal network has been cut to pieces, from a kayaker’s point of view, where it is not longer possible to go from one part to another.

Today I have had a meeting with the city official who have signed the new regulations, and it was not as bad as I had anticipated.

As things stand now, the ban is there and it is an offence to even paddle across the no-go canals.

However, the city administrators have finally understood that they have made a mistake by issuing a blanket ban like they have. Being unable to turn back, there will be a modification to the new rules, which will give kayaks, canoes and dragon boats more room so it will be possible to move around the city in a reasonably rational way.

In short, there will be some points on the no-go canals where passage will be allowed, most notably on the Grand Canal.  There will be some limits on when you can pass, it’ll be mostly in the afternoon, and maybe even on who can pass, for example a requirement that there is a qualified coach in a group of kayaks.

It is my hope that they will also allow passage, at least in the afternoon, on parts of the lower Canal Grande, so we can still visit the ancient gondola shipyards in the Dorsoduro area, which will otherwise be unreachable.

While this will not be a perfect solution, it will be a marked improvement on the no-exceptions-allowed ban they have made for now.

Bureaucracy

The current rules banning kayaks etc from the Grand Canal and more, are not made by the city administration alone, and the city administration cannot therefore change them alone.

The changes from February 11th were published after a meeting of what they call a conferenza dei servizi, where all the different public bodies meet to coordinate.

A change to the new rules will have to pass the same way. This means that there will be a meeting on March 12th, where a commission will meet to prepare everything for the next meeting of the conferenza dei servizi, where a change can be formally decided.

Once we get there, we’ll know what they’ll come up with.

I do not know the date of the next meeting of the conferenza dei servizi, but I’ve been told that they’re normally held once a month.

Legal Challenge

The legal challenge to the kayaking ban in Venice will not stop before the city administration publishes what exactly they intend to do, and they cannot do that before the meeting of the conferenza dei servizi has met, and at than point they have also decided.

There will be no public hearing, beside the kind of privately requested meetings with city officials, like the one I had today.

The Arcobaleno association has no intend of backing down before they know what the new rules will be, so the process will go forward.

The collection of funds in support of the legal challenge continues.

 The meeting

My appointment today was  on behalf of my company Venice Kayak,  so I did not represent anybody else there.

Besides explanations about what we’re doing — kayaking excursions in Venice lead by qualified guides, and not any kind of rental to whoever shows up — the discussion was mostly about what kind of modifications we would need to be able to continue our work.

This maps shows the ‘dispensations’ we’ll need to be able to carry on in the way we have done now in seven years, without accidents or conflicts.

Venice kayaking ban - suggested changes

Summarised we need

  • a few passages on inner city canals to connect the otherwise detached segments of the city’s canal network,
  • some predetermined points where we can cross the Grand Canal, on each of the three parts of the canal, and
  • the possibility of transiting on a part of the lower Grand Canal to reach otherwise unreachable areas.

For now we’re crossing our fingers, hoping for the best.

If the city administration cannot come up with a working solution for us and the other paddlers in Venice, we will have no choice but the throw all our effort at the legal challenge the Arcobaleno association is preparing.

Kayaking ban in Venice – legal challenge

Venice has issued a ban on kayaks, canoes, dragon boats and more, which will be effective from Sunday, March 1st.

This ban will harm the activities of several groups.

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The local kayaking association Arcobaleno has initiated a legal challenge to the new regulation banning kayaks and canoes in Venice.

Arcobaleno is one of the oldest kayaking clubs in the wider Venice area, and they have been active for many many years.

A Paypal account ricorso@arcocanoa.org has been set up to collect funds for the legal battle ahead. The needs aren’t huge, all in all around €3000 will be needed, but it is more than the club and its supporters have.

Even contributions of €5, €10 or €20 will be a help in the fight to keep Venice open for paddlers.

Kayaking ban in Venice – where and how to help

Venice has issued a ban on kayaks, canoes, dragon boats and more, which will be effective from Sunday, March 1st.

This ban will harm the activities of several groups.

All of these groups, together with the Italian Federation for Canoe and Kayak (FICK) and other organisations are trying in various ways to counter this blanket bans of most paddle crafts in Venice.

Salviamo Venezia andando a remi e pagaie

A lot of discussion is going on the Facebook group called Salviamo Venezia andando a remi e pagaie.

Most of the discussion is in Italian, but it is open for all interested parties. I try to put in something in English every once in a while, but I’m neither the creator nor an administrator of the group.

Screenshot from 2015-02-26 21:39:34

There’s a petition on change.org asking for the new regulations to be recalled.

At the time of writing it is approaching 2000 signatures, and you can all give us a hand by heading over there to sign.

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The local kayaking association Arcobaleno has initiated a legal challenge to the new regulation banning kayaks and canoes in Venice.

Arcobaleno is one of the oldest kayaking clubs in the wider Venice area, and they have been active for many many years.

A Paypal account ricorso@arcocanoa.org has been set up to collect funds for the legal battle ahead. The needs aren’t huge, all in all around €3000 will be needed, but it is more than the club and its supporters have.

Even contributions of €5, €10 or €20 will be a help in the fight to keep Venice open for paddlers.

Who’s affected by the new prohibitions in Venice

The new regulations banning kayaks, canoes and dragon boats will affect quite a few clubs and activities in Venice.

The association Venice Canoe & Dragon takes (or rather, has taken) school kids in dragon boats through the city. Until now they have done so for 9000 kids, but that is a thing of the past now. Now the kids cannot experience the city on water from the water any more, unless they take a taxi.

The Pink Lionesses of Venice is an association for women who are survivors of breast cancer. Their pink dragon boat was once a common sight on the Grand Canal, but they too will have to paddle elsewhere.

Several of the rowing clubs based on the mainland will no longer be able to row or paddle in the Grand Canal. This also seems to apply to Venetian rowing, if the club is not based in Venice city or on the lagoon islands. This will affect the Società Canottieri Mestre and, I believe, the Voga Veneta Mestre, both well respected members of the Venetian rowing community.

All the individuals, clubs, associations and companies from outside Venice, that used to do the occasional tour to Venice in kayak, canoe or dragon boat will now face a fine if they venture onto the Grand Canal or any of the no-go canals in the future.

Due to the massive exodus from Venice towards the mainland during the last decades, there are actually more Venetians living in Mestre and Marghera than in Venice proper, and they will now be excluded from experiencing their native city as it was always intended, in a rowed by from the water.

At a cultural level, this new ban in a blow to the heart of everything that is Venetian.

My company Venice Kayak will at least be impeded by the published ban on kayaking on the Grand Canal, but we will probably be less hurt than the others, since we can still use some of the smaller canals in the city, where dragon boats cannot go.