"Numbers are clear: cycling is growing in the best equipped areas but also in previously unimaginable ones, such as Rome".
This is what Giulietta Pagliaccio, president of the Italian Federation of Bicycle’s Friends (FIAB), says. We talked with her after the allocation of 91 million euro in three years provided by the last Stability Law for the design and implementation of a touristic cycle ways’ national system.
It is worth mentioning that these funds have as a priority the stretches of the “Sun Cycle way” Verona - Florence, the route Venice - Turin along the Po river, the “Puglia Aqueduct Cycle way” and the “GRAB” (the Great highway for bicycles), 44 km to connect Colosseum, ancient Appia street, parks and river system of the Capital with newly built neighborhoods. (Read the article: "Cycle ways, new roads for Europe")
President, what do you think about the new Stability Law, do you think that the interventions go in the right direction?
The economic resources available are for precise and specific interventions, chosen between those with an already advanced design level. The importance of these funds not only lies on their size but in the fact that they have a 'multiplier effect', by making new ideas circulating and they create a kind of competition to propose new projects related to the two wheels.
What are the next steps to do?
Surely to network the various stretches each other, creating a continuity both in Italy and in Europe. We must think about long-range interventions, like Eurovelo or Bicitalia’s. Over time, therefore, we must work on all those stretches that complete the network.
We’re talking about extra-urban paths, the cities are a little bit forgotten?
Yes, it’s true, indeed the towns must adapt to bicycles’ needs, which is something still far away. Even the GRAB project has a weakness: the lack of routes leading from the great ring road to the city center.
Other road users continue to see cyclists in a negative way and they often become intended victims...
The non-cyclists perception towards those who travel on the pedals must change: there is a new user that the drivers often perceive as a stranger... We need a cultural change - and this is also the Fiab work - perhaps promoting an institutional campaign. It would be helpful to make it clear that the city streets can be used by new users.
Does cycling tourism represent a remarkable opportunity for tourism, too?
Sure! Even the territories and their hotel accommodations must adapt to this new developing sector. In the same way as decades ago we welcomed driving tourists by creating appropriate infrastructures and services, so now we will have to accommodate and encourage cyclists offering services along the bike paths and in the cities, allowing them to leave the bike in safe places, both in public areas and hotels. The advantage would be to have a no-seasonally tourism that allows to make the opening periods of the structures longer.
I just hope that we will go forward along the newly chosen way, without let bureaucracy create excessive hitches.
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