Bicyclists ride to Aviano to protest nukes
Stars and Stripes August 8, 2009
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Traffic could be disrupted outside the base this weekend as a group of anti-nuclear protesters on bicycles ride through the region.
A few dozen Italians — many of them members of the Blessed Constructors of Peace — are participating in a four-day bicycle ride that will end Sunday outside the air base.
The event, called "Pace in bici" ("Peace on Bikes"), spans about 155 miles and began Thursday outside the gates of Ghedi Air Base, an Italian facility with a small American contingent.
On Friday, Aviano alerted personnel of the event and advised them to not drive along the route protesters have proposed to take Sunday from Pordenone to Aviano, known as the "AP highway," a stretch of about 6 miles.
"We do respect the right of people to protest like this," said 1st Lt. Kim Schaerdel, chief of public affairs for the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano.
Both the Aviano and Ghedi bases are widely believed to have nuclear weapons and have been the subject of several reports by groups opposed to nuclear weapons. The U.S. government routinely declines to discuss such matters.
On Saturday, the cyclists plan to pass through communities near Aviano, including Prata di Pordenone and Brugnera before halting in Pordenone.
According to the group’s Web site, www.beati.org, riders plan to arrive outside Aviano about 11 a.m.
Valentina Lehman provided translation for this report.