With a new law that is now entering into force, off-road excursions are now officially prohibited in Italy.
The new regulation regulates traffic on all forest and dirt roads in Italy. In the future, their driving will only be permitted for vehicles that serve to manage adjacent areas as well as vehicles that are used to maintain the road. All other vehicles are excluded. This includes motorcycles, cars (on-road vehicles), quads and even bicycles. Mountain bikers, off-road vehicle riders and also endurists, on the other hand, are storming, because with the new regulation, driving on paths below 2.5 meters wide is definitely prohibited. However, the Italian regions can handle the new regulation relatively freely. The legislator grants them quite a lot of leeway.
In Italy, numerous dirt and forest roads have so far been subject to the normal road traffic regulations and could thus be used legally. But already in 2018, Italy had already largely restricted their use by law. If you get caught, you pay a juicy fine and from now on you no longer have the opportunity to talk yourself out. The famous “strade bianche” are not affected, because they are wider than 2.50 meters. The background to the new legal regulation is the sometimes ruthless use of field and forest paths, which permanently damages them. As a result, many paths are then impassable for the residents.
The explanations of the MiPAAF (Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy):
It should be remembered that the primary competence in this matter lies with the regions, and each region and autonomous province already has its own regional law, which regulates the purely technical aspects and usability of these roads.
The decree is within the scope of the provisions of Article 9 of the consolidated law on forests and forestry of 2018 (Legislative Decree No. 34/2018), which has been in force for years without this having an impact on the question of the usability of forest paths.
The permitted passage on the said road network has not changed, whereby forest roads and paths, as expressly provided for in Article 2(3) of the decree, are not subject to the safety criteria for normal roads, as they are roads exempt from the road traffic regulations. In addition, as explained in the same paragraph, the regions are responsible for regulating the modalities of the use, management and development of the forest road network, “taking into account the requirements related to forest management and the protection of the environment and landscape”.
This is the authentic interpretation of the provision, which reaffirms the responsibility of the regions to regulate forest roads. Not to ban it from the outset, but precisely defined.
So, what is the conclusion?
- It is essential to know exactly the area and the regulations in force in a particular area.
- If you arrive in a van in a place you don’t know, unload the motorcycles and pretend to drive by chance, you are very likely to drive on sections that are prohibited.
- With the right care, with the right attention to the places and the people who live and visit them, we can certainly continue to drive enduro and actually be a category that is able to enhance areas that would otherwise receive little attention from traditional tourism. Knowledge of the area, dialogue with the institutions, respect and compliance is fundamental: whether 2018, 2021 or at another time, that is our philosophy!