Venice Introduces Boat Speed Restrictions After Series of Accidents

Reddy Darwis

venice tourism

In response to a series of accidents involving tourists, Venice has installed speed-monitoring cameras along its iconic canals. These cameras will oversee the gondolas navigating the waters, and any driver exceeding the speed limit will face fines.

According to the Venice Insider Guide, the new measures permit the use of “barcavelox” to monitor the speed of boats and gondolas navigating the canals. Barcavelox is a specially adapted speed-measuring camera designed for aquatic environments, capable of detecting when boats are moving too fast.

“The streets of Venice are canalized lagoons, so boat traffic needs to be controlled more effectively,” stated parliament member Martina Semenzato to Italian media, as reported by The Telegraph.

Protecting Buildings Surrounding the Canals

As per MailOnline, authorities had already set speed limits for boats in Venice’s canals, approximately four miles per hour in main canals and slightly above three miles per hour in narrower canals. However, enforcing these rules proved challenging due to inadequate infrastructure, resulting in many boats speeding without penalties.

The Telegraph reports that these regulations aim to protect the Venice lagoon’s ecosystem and the city’s vulnerable architecture from the impact of rapidly moving boat-generated waves. The wave motion erodes canal walls and damages local structures.

In 2021, Italian authorities approved a ban on cruise ships entering Venice’s historic center in response to UNESCO’s request, stating that cruise ships were eroding the city’s foundations.

Numerous Fatal Incidents

Apart from preserving Venice’s landmarks, the newly implemented speed regulations also aim to safeguard those traveling along the canals, which have been the site of several fatal incidents over the years, according to the Venice Insider Guide.

In 2013, a tourist on a gondola was struck by a water bus, and in 2018, three people died in two separate boating accidents over a weekend. A year later, in 2019, three people died while attempting to break the high-speed motorboat record. In 2022, a Belgian tourist was caught speeding on the Grand Canal with a stolen water taxi, eventually stopped by the police and fined.

Violations of tourist rules in Venice also occurred a few weeks ago when a group of tourists fell into icy waters after their gondola overturned. It was reported that the tourists on the boat ignored the gondolier’s warnings to stop taking selfies and sit quietly on the boat.

Overtourism Concerns

Venice is one of the world’s destinations grappling with overtourism, as millions of visitors flock to this Italian city. However, excessive tourism is considered a threat to its UNESCO World Heritage status. In addition to imposing numerous regulations, Venice has implemented a tourist tax starting January 2024. Every non-staying tourist is charged an entrance fee of 5 euros. City officials hope that by taking these measures, they can achieve a balance so that the city can be enjoyed by both residents and visitors.

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