BarcaVelox arrives (again): here’s what changes now

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BarcaVelox arrives. An amendment that permanently authorizes the use of BarcaVelox, the boat speed camera, in the Venetian Lagoon has been approved in the House Transportation Committee.


Among the new measures approved by the House Transportation Committee is the barcavelox. Again? Effectively, BarcaVeloxes are nothing new. A Tg1 report of as many as 11 years fa, already celebrated the commissioning of “Argos,” a system of 14 cameras and sensors designed to record the position and speed of all boats transiting the Grand Canal, with real-time data transmission to the Municipal Police Operations Center. Argos was later dismantled and in its place came the MoMa system and SiSa, more technological models designed to monitor vessels and penalize offenders.

Bureaucracy was blocking the BarcaVeloxes.

Argos and MoMa technologies, as well as those of handheld devices used on the road, telelashers, have already been validated several times to measure boat speed. In 2008 in Marciana Marina, the Harbor Master’s Office had experimented with a common speed camera on boats from the breakwater, easily detecting that 15 out of 25 boats were exceeding the limits.


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According to the 2023 local police report, as many as 216,682 “target actions” of boats with the BarcaVelox telelaser have already been carried out in the Venetian Lagoon.

The bureaucracy of legislative loopholes and regulatory gaps, however, had effectively prevented the use of BarcaVelox and sensor systems such as MoMa. The new the amendment officially makes existing BarcaVeloxes operational.

Barcavelox tolerance

The regulation provides for a ten percent tolerance on the speed value detected by the BarcaVeloxes with a minimum of 2 kilometers per hour, so as to completely rule out instrumental and measurement errors, but if the limits are exceeded there will be no excuse to contest the fines.


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Boat speed limits

Within one mile of the coast, the limit is 10 knots; in ports, the speed limit is posted at the entrance to marinas, in pilot books and ordinances, typically 3 or 5 knots.

In the Venetian lagoon, speed limits are expressed in kilometers per hour and displayed on prohibition signs very similar to road signs. These range from a general limit of 20km/h in the lagoon to 7km/h or 5km/h for narrower canals or in Blue Areas. All information for navigating Venice’s canals and their limits can be found in the pdf lagooner’s manual.

Speed limits and wave damage

A large area of the lagooner’s handbook is devoted to the study of the negative effects of wave motion generated by boats, and from the conclusions of studies on the subject, speed limits in Venice were derived.

In addition to the problems to those mooring or sailing small boats common to all harbors, generating waves for high sailing speeds within Venetian canals creates other undesirable effects. Reflected waves and shallow depth in channels amplify wave motion conducive to erosion of banks and building foundations by seepage.

For this reason, it is essential for both safety and the preservation of the city that everyone obeys the speed limit.

Will we see BarcaVelox appear in other ports?

Probably yes, BarcaVelox technologies have existed for years, the Venetian experience now regulated permanently will likely act as a pilot. In the future, therefore, it cannot be ruled out that Port Authorities may use BarcaVelox in ports, canals and sensitive coastal areas, in tourist and beach areas, and in marine protected areas.

Luigi Gallerani

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