In Italy, the culture of bicycles is lacking, although, in some small and medium-sized towns, something is moving. But it is essential to know that to go in there is only to gain.
In Italy, cyclists are a mistreated category, poorly considered, but perhaps the dark times for cycling lovers are ending. Of course, the road is still long, winding, and tiring, but these things do not scare a true cyclist. Some municipal administrations (too few for now) are opening their eyes, the most forward-looking administrators have seen in the bicycle a way of salvation for health but also the economy, but on this issue, we will return later by telling about some laudable initiatives that for as isolated, they keep the flame of hope alive because as they are today, cities are unlivable due to traffic, the lack of parking spaces, public transport in trouble amid financial difficulties, old and numerically insufficient cars.
The economy travels on two wheels.
Around bicycles, there is a pretty good turnover, about 200 billion in Europe alone, so much so that the term “bionomics” was coined. In addition to the resulting savings for consumers who do not have to worry about gasoline, maintenance (if not small things), and insurance, there is a considerable profit for those who produce and sell bicycles with related accessories such as the best bike rack.
As a result, jobs are also created. But do you know what is the really interesting data and which should push our country to make serious investments to favor cyclists? Cycle tourism, which, again at the European level, brings in revenues of 44 billion euros. According to Eurovelo estimates, each kilometer of the tourist cycle path involves an annual supply of between 110,000 and 350,000 euros. An exemplary case is Germany, which, thanks to cycle tourism, invoices 16 billion a year and employs 300,000 people.
At work, by bike, it is convenient.
ISTAT data tell us that going to work by bicycle instead of by car allows a saving on wages between 16% and 20%. It may be interesting to draw a parallel by borrowing the data released from France. The transalpine government has concluded that investing a million on cycling results in the creation of ten jobs. If the million euro, on the other hand, is invested in the motoring sector, the jobs created are only two.
In the beginning, we said that in Italy something is moving. For example, in Cesena, the municipality has created a really interesting project: “At work by bike” (a similar project is also in Bari). To reward those who leave the car at home to go to work on the bicycle, he gives 25 cents per kilometer for a maximum monthly reimbursement of € 50, not a little if you add up to 20% that you save on salary as shown by ISTAT data mentioned above. To verify the path followed, an application has been created.
In Pesaro, a city administered by the mayor Matteo Ricci, several lines of the so-called Bicipolitana, or a bicycle underground, have been completed. The project started in 2005, and 87 km has been completed to date. However, the goal is far more ambitious to cover 180 km to create a city that can be traveled entirely by bicycle.
The example of Pesaro inspired another mayor, Carlo Salvemini, administrator of Lecce. Work has recently started in the Salento city. The mayor of Pesaro has been invited for the occasion, who accompanied the first citizen of Lecce to the city districts where the bicipolitana will be built. Of course, the two moved on two wheels, accompanied by the councilor for sustainable mobility Marco de Matteis, some technicians and bike enthusiasts interested in the initiative. A Bicipolitana is also located in Collegno, in the province of Turin.
But are these single territorial stories enough? We are not naive, it is still little, and there is no news of similar infrastructural works in the Italian metropolises. Meanwhile, in 2022 a nice project (the conditional is a must) called VenTo should start. It is a large cycling path that should connect Venice with Turin along the Po and extend for 679 km. According to Paolo Pileri, creator of the project and teacher at the Polytechnic of Milan, such infrastructures would allow to counter the depopulation of certain territories as well as being a great opportunity to create new jobs.
More bikes more benefits
The spread of bicycles would bring benefits for everyone and not only in economic terms. A “demotorized” city is more livable and healthy. Pollution would be significantly reduced, and people would do more physical activity, the lack of which involves various pathologies, even serious ones, not to mention the health risks deriving from breathing polluted air. More healthy people also means less public health expenditure. If the children could go to school by bicycle, perhaps accompanied by their parents, they would at least partially remedy the problem of obesity or overweight that afflicts part of the school-age children.