This year the UK has seen a number of cycle campaigners and advocates get behind the cause of making Britain's streets safer, particularly for cyclists.
The Times' #cyclesafe or 'Cities fit for cyclists' campaign is one of the most prominent, cited as a key factor in getting the topic on the political agenda and gathering 77 MPs from all major UK political parties to discuss cycling earlier this year.
The campaign has inspired other countries to put cycling in the minds of policy makers, not least in Italy with its #salvaiciclisti movement. Campaigning not against car drivers, but politicians that refuse to put safe cities on the agenda, #salvaiciclisti inspired a 50,000 strong contingent of cyclists to ride in Rome to draw attention to the campaign.
BikeBiz spoke to Paolo Pinzuti, the man who launched #salvaiciclisti...
What is the #salvaiciclisti movement aiming to achieve?
#salvaiciclisti’s main aim is to change the habits of Italians concerning transit: with 62 cars per 100 inhabitants, Italy is one of the most motorized countries in Europe, that’s mainly because the use of public means of transportation have been discouraged over the years and cycling is far too dangerous. During the last ten years over 2,500 cyclists died on Italian roads [compared with 1,225 in the UK] hidden by an almost complete silence of politicians and media, #salvaiciclisti succeeded to spark the debate about cyclists’ safety among media and politicians. We also brought our proposals to the Italian Parliament and to the mayors. Among others, the limit speed of 30 km/h inside residential areas.
What inspired the campaign?
The campaign has been inspired by the British campaign “Cities fit for cyclists” launched by the Times. We just used their manifesto to break the silence and then we moved immediately to the very Italian problems: fight against wild parking, construction of cycling paths, integrated policies to increase the number of urban cyclists.
How did you get 25,000 people onto the street last April?
They were 25,000 if you just looked at the left side of the Fori Imperiali’s road, 25,000 more if you looked at the right side of the road. Actually all this was very easy: everything started from the web, mainly from twitter and Facebook were in few weeks more than 15,000 people joined the group “salviamo I ciclisti”. Finally we just spent 593 euro for advertisement for the demonstration, all the rest came by itself due to a strong commitment of many activists and the spread of mouth.
Is the campaign just focused on one city, or is it country-wide?
The campaign is nationwide, but there are more than 30 local groups which are working on a local level to get concrete results in their cities. Our biggest hope is that the campaign might become international involving also biketivists from other countries.