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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Managing traffic (or not) on the waterways of Venice

Kaid Benfield

Posted May 25, 2012

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  Venice (by: shapour bahrami, creative commons license)

I’ve never been to Venice, but I want to go.  Obviously one of the world’s most storied cities, it seems haunting and romantic, if also maybe not fully “real” in the same sense as communities I usually write about.  It seems much more from and suited to another time than most cities, even those with substantial historic character. 

(I’m tempted to say that nothing like Venice would be built today, for all sorts of valid reasons having to with environmental and literal sustainability.  But if that logic applied, Dubai wouldn’t exist, either.)

Physically, what seems most distinct about Venice is the degree of reliance on canals and waterways – for the tourists, of course, but not just for the tourists.  And that brings us to this fascinating time-lapse video, very well produced by Joerg Niggli.  Like its subject, it is beautiful and captivating.  I found it while catching up on Aaron Renn’s always-engaging Urbanophile blog.

The video makes me wonder whether there is any prevailing order to the way the pilots of the vessels choose their routes and avoid collisions.  There must be, but it is not discernible from the video, titled Venice in a Day.  Enjoy:


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Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page. 

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jessicajessicaMay 25 2012 07:42 PM

Venice is the most beautiful city on earth. Go now. I wish it were still a "real" city.
Have you checked out Masdar in Abu Dhabi? It's (kind of) like Venice but with personal rapid transit.

BossiMay 31 2012 09:17 PM

Beautiful! One of the finest time lapses I have yet seen.

RE: order to the madness- it's generally a "keep right" rule, with slowest traffic keeping to the edges and faster traffic toward the middle.

The gondolas are a bit of an exception, as you can see toward the end... but they *tend* to keep to the sides and are slow enough that they're easy to maneuver around.

The smaller canals can also be a bit of an exception, particularly where they're only wide enough for one lane of traffic; especially once you consider all the boats moored along the edge. But still generally keep right; otherwise tend to share who goes first.

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