Even the South Tyrol State Office for Mobility itself does not seem to be taking the closure of the Sella Pass to traffic very seriously: every Wednesday from 9 am to 4 pm in July and August, the Sella Pass is to be closed for all motorised vehicles - that sounds a little like "Take a shower, but please make sure you don’t get wet”. But there’s quite another way of looking at this rather strange experiment of course: the Sella Pass is open in summer, but will only be closed to traffic for seven hours every Wednesday. To carry out maintenance work, or something like that. But early in the morning and late in the afternoon, anyone and everyone can power up and take to the road again. All it means to Sella’s friends in future is that they’ll simply have to come either a little earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon, or on Thursday. There must be some way of organising that. And another example that puts the closure clearly in perspective: the Nürburgring North Loop is closed a lot more frequently than the Sella Pass …
Where environmentalists and politicians are urging everyone to see a beacon of light here for the protection of our environment, it remains as questionable as the fuming of the professional tourists surrounding us that’s enough to drive you up the wall as they begin to weep and wail their way with chattering teeth through the first chords of the Bankruptcy Blues.
Let us, completely devoid of any self-interest or ideology, look at the situation then for what it is: an attempt to try something out in an area that is being choked to death by too much traffic. It actually makes no sense and at first sight a very timid effort - but as an almost touchingly helpless action, something that nevertheless gives you something to think about. What’s going on up there, in the Alps? Why is an alibi event seen either as a major environmental achievement or as an existential threat to Alpine tourism that each?
Those who now expect from CURVES that we immediately jump to support the opponents of the closure are going to be disappointed: in the Alps, in our opinion, there is indeed something wrong on many of the passes and on many of the routes, and it is high time that something be done to clear up the mess. It’s really no fun for anybody when the most beautiful Alpine passes are choked with traffic, as coaches and caravans, racing bike enthusiasts, groups of bikers and entire sports car communities fight tooth and nail for a meter or two of space or for the best spots to park for a stunning panoramic view. Someone is out of place here. It goes without saying that we do not have the audacity to place our desire for “soulful driving“, the sensual experience of sweeping through curves, taking pleasure in the ideal line and the physics of driving, above the desires of coachloads of Asian tourists to find the perfect panoramic selfie. There is no minimum speed limit, no minimum ambition in this sports discipline. Anyone who believes he has the right to torture himself in a diesel-smoking, asthmatic 70s Camper as he winds his way up the mountain passes like a drifting sand dune can do so, just like a Reinhold Messner can in search of the yeti, as he pursues his fantasies of being the primate of all alpinists with no oxygen bottle. The Alps belong to everyone.
It would be a mistake, however, to infer from this that we have a right to travel on unrestricted roads. There is much too much going on up there. That has to be said. We from CURVES like driving in the Alps (and also like the Alps when we are not driving) too much to claw at the barrier across the road on the Sella Pass like sulky children. This "look after number one" mentality of many landlords and hoteliers, and of many Alpine fans is something we do not consider to be particularly smart. We quite happily remove the car keys because the Alps and driving actually mean something to us. As far as we‘re concerned, this is not silly consumption, not something we take for granted, but a privilege.
Why then on the Sella Pass (and wherever else it is necessary), instead of arbitrary and understandable road closures, is there not simply an entrance fee? We should not delude ourselves: these are not simply roads that take us from A to B, but events. Pure beauty. They should not be there simply for the taking. Take a look at what’s going on in Austria (Grossglockner) or in the National Parks in America.