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Bologna by Bre


Commuting on Campus

By Brea Johnson



It’s become a realization that I’ve never mentioned one of the best traits of the city of Bologna, the place I have called home for the last two months: the ability to walk without fear.

I’ve never understood exactly how pedestrians are supposed to function in Bloomington. In the unnecessary, two-day-long freshman orientation (no, I’m not still bitter), this crucial aspect of campus life was somehow left out.  

The sidewalks are full of people usually meandering at a leisurely pace, forcing some to wonder if these slow walkers actually attend class at all.

The streets are reserved for the precarious campus drivers who seemingly made a collective decision to inhabit the same Midwestern city. The worst part of any journey on foot is the realization that the street must be crossed.

It is then one waits patiently by the ignored pedestrian crosswalks for a break in traffic that allows them to scamper across the street to safety.

Imagine a world where pedestrians, cars and bicyclists could exist in harmony. Here, it would be understood that sidewalks should offer ample space that can accommodate many lanes of foot traffic. Citizens out for a stroll would stick close to the walls while businessmen and students with places to go could walk around them while remaining on the sidewalk. As a bonus, these walkways are protected from the elements with porticos.

Bicyclists would also have their own lane in the streets (one on either side) that cars would respect.

Here, bikers could exercise and travel around the city without having to weave between people on foot and quickly moving cars. In fact, blue signs would be posted throughout the city to remind drivers of their partners onthe road.
Cars, the final piece of this utopian transportation society, would still drive more quickly than preferred by those on foot, but they would always stop to respect those crossing the street in the universal, thick, white lines that indicate when a right of way should be yielded.

If you’re wondering why buses haven’t been mentioned in this ode to transportation harmony, it’s because I empathize with the problems that befuddle public transportation. I understand buses will sometimes run late because of traffic- or weather-related delays, but I still haven’t fully comprehended why it’s seemingly impossible for them to ever arrive on time.

Unlike past failed utopian societies, Bologna not only exists but flourishes. Located in the heart of the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, this university town is home to more than 100,000 students between the months of September and June.

While it fails to be mentioned in many travel books about places to visit in Italy, it makes a great stop for those wanting to sample its world-famous Bolognese sauce. Here in the city it’s known as ragu and tastes much better than its brand name counterpart available in American grocery stores.

While you may have grown skeptical about the possibility of traveling the streets of a college campus without fear, know that it happens every day in the land of Italy, where the cars are considerate and the pedestrians are safe.

—johnsbrl@indiana.edu

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