Venice by bicycle

I have bought a bicycle here in Mestre, and the other day I went to Venice by bicycle, and from there to the Lido. While it can be done, I’m not so sure it is advisable.

Driving a bicycle here in Mestre is great. There are bike lanes all over and it is easy to move around, so the first part of the trip was easy and quite pleasant.

The problem is that Mestre is surrounded by some major roads with a lot of traffic. There is only one road leading to Venice, and that is the bridge between Mestre and Venice. It is officially a normal road with a limit of 50 km/h before the bridge and 90 km/h on the bridge, but in practise it is made and used like a motorway.

Once I arrived on the outskirts of Mestre, I had to follow the SS13 for a while driving alongside some quite heavy traffic, onto the ramps of the Via della Libertà which runs on the bridge. Its a bit scary having big lorries passing you that close.

The bridge itself has a pavement for pedestrians and bicycles, separated from the road by a guard rail. Initially it was some 1.5m wide and made for a pleasant ride, but a few hundred meters from Venice it narrowed to maybe 0.6m and as the guard rail had had some less amicable encounters with cars there were places where I could barely squeeze by.

Once on the first island of Venice, there’s a kind of booth in the middle of the pavement forcing you onto the road, and then the road leading right to the Maritime Station and the Tronchetto island. Continuing ahead, this time on the pavement for safety, I reached Piazzale Roma which is the only part of Venice where wheeled traffic is allowed. A visitor to Venice would have to leave the bicycle here, but I just had a chat with an ATM and went back towards the Tronchetto island and took the Ferry Boat to the Lido.

The Lido is a nice place to go by bicycle. There are cars but not that many, as the only connecting to the mainland is by two ferry lines, and many of the locals prefer to go by foot, bicycle or scooter for local business.

On my way back it got rather nasty. Things went well with the ferry and until the start of the bridge between Mestre and Venice. At the start of the bridge, I couldn’t find any path on the other side of the bridge, so I returned on the same side as I came. No problems on the bridge, Venice doesn’t seem to be a popular destination for bicyclists when its raining :-), but when I arrived at the end of the bridge, I found myself on the edge of a motorway ramp, going against the traffic. In the end I had to cross a three lane motorway by bicycle to get back on track, and I could return home through Mestre, but it wasn’t a good experience. Cars tend to move way too fast on motorways, at least if you are on a bicycle.

Bicycle holidays in the area around the Lagoon of Venice are great. The landscape is beautiful, there are many small roads with little traffic and there are loads of nice places to visit and enjoy, but should you want to visit Venice on such a holiday, don’t go there by bicycle. Leave the bicycle and your gear at the station in Mestre, and take the train or a bus to Venice proper. The approach to Venice by land is made for cars and trains only, with only cursory attention to other kind of travellers.

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