Venice to Ban Dragon Boats in Grand Canal

Human-powered vessels to be prohibited

Feb 20, 2015
Outside Magazine
grand canal venice gondola

Watercraft will be banned on the Grand Canal starting March 1.    Kosala Bandara/Flickr

The city of Venice will impose new restrictions on self-propelled watercraft within its vast network of canals, according to guide company Venice Kayak. A February 20 blog post on the company’s website says that a new modification to the city’s traffic rules, set to take effect March 1, prohibits kayaks, canoes, dragon boats, and SUPs in the Grand Canal—the city’s main thoroughfare.

In a February 18 blog post, Venice Kayak owner René Seindal raises questions about the unintended effects of closing the Grand Canal to such traffic. He claims it will change the entire nature of canal transit in Venice and cause confusion and potentially traffic snarls in smaller canals connected to the Grand Canal.

“A lot of very narrow canals lead down to some of the no-go canals, so if you went down there in a kayak, you wouldn’t be able to get out legally,” he wrote. Those one-way canals that open into the Grand Canal would essentially be closed by default, Seindal said. “If you enter one of these nominally ‘legal’ canals, you won’t be able to get out again, unless you paddled backwards through a narrow, winding and [possibly] busy canal.” Seindal has created a petition calling for the city to revoke the ban.

A representative of Tofino Expeditions, a kayaking outfitter specializing in Venice, contacted Outside directly regarding the ban. “Tofino has received limited permission to run our small set of 3 closely guided trips,” Tofino owner Grant Thompson said. He noted that “cruise ships are the real problem here.”

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