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Map of the Florence Bicipolitana, Source: Florence Municipality

Florence to extend its ‘bike subway’ with two new lines

Florence to extend its ‘bike subway’ with two new lines

Italian cities have been adopting the concept of ‘bicipolitana’

On 23 September, the authorities of Florence announced that two more lines will be extended and added to the local Bicipolitana cycling network. In practical terms, that means the development of almost 6 kilometres of new lanes for a budget of over 2.6 million euros. The Florence Bicipolitana will thus have 8 fully functional cycling lines.

What is Bicipolitana, anyway?

What is more interesting, however, is the very concept of Bicipolitana, which might be an unfamiliar word and idea to most Europeans living outside of Italy. There is no elegant translation in English, but a direct one would be a ‘bike subway’, referring to the portmanteau creation of Bicipolitana from bicicletta and metropolitana – the Italian words for bicycle and subway.

The idea behind that concept is to take a subway approach and transplant it to the urban cycling network. That means the marking of some of the city’s busy cycling paths as principal thoroughfares, each one with a separate colour code, much like the subway lines are.

The Bicipolitana lines will thus connect main urban points with the peripheries of a city allowing for more express cycling commute to take place, in comparison to leisurely cycling paths. Cyclists will also have the chance to see indications and signs pointing to nodes where they can do intermodal transfers with the city public transit system. In a sense, these will thus represent the various ‘stops’ of the bike subway.

Florence adopted the approach back in 2018, however, the birthplace of the idea was another Italian town. Pesaro, located in the region of Marche on the Adriatic coast, was the first city to start converting its cycling network into a Bicipolitana in 2005.

The Florence bike subway also began as an upgrade to the existing cycling network, and as the intro of this article indicated there is also the element of growth and development. Experts are there to identify critical issues and maintenance interventions in order to respond in the best possible way to the real mobility needs of Florentine cyclists. 

This is also possible with the data collected over the years thanks to the counters installed on the lanes. These are numbers that have allowed authorities to understand the habits and needs of those who travel by bike every day. 

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