photo credit @ RCS Sport
Vincenzo Nibali’s victory in last year’s Tour de France has inspired a new wave of young cyclists in Italy.
The Youth Sector of Italy’s National Federation, the Federazione Ciclistica Italiana (FCI), reports a 5.3% increase in children’s membership in 2014 compared to 2013. The 7-12 year category alone boasts 14,641 members.
The activity of FCI’s Youth Sector lies at the intersection between growing the sport and promoting bike mobility. In this respect, Italy – one of the traditional powerhouses of cycle-sport – is devoting increasing resources to enlarging the bottom layers of the pyramid, with a true cycling-for-all vision.
Giving every child the opportunity to ride a bike is one of the three objectives of the UCI Advocacy Commission. In this spirit, FCI developed a number of projects, with a range of collaborations that tells all about the intrinsic cross-sectoral nature of cycling.
Now in its 8th edition, Pinocchio in Bicicletta is an educational programme catering to primary school children aged 6 to 10. It focuses on three areas: nutrition, the environment and bikeability (basic knowledge of the machine and road safety fundamentals).
“By teaching children the essentials of how a bike is made and of how they should behave on the roads, we lay the foundations to nurture a generation of cyclists,” says Youth Sector Director Maurizio Luzzi. “Every year, we manage to connect with 10,000 to 12,000 school kids.
“More and more schools are becoming aware of the importance of cycling in the upbringing of kids. They welcome our efforts, and facilitate the distribution of our informative literature.”
Sulla buona strada…in bici (Riding on the right path) targets intermediate schools. The project leverages on one of the assets of the FCI: its widespread network of affiliated clubs and cycling schools. Workshops are organised with practical sessions, where kids are given the chance to refine their technique under the supervision of licensed cycling coaches. The initiative is run in cooperation with the Ministry for Transport, and while still in its pilot stage reached between 3,000 and 4,000 youngsters in 50 schools across the country.
A number of partners are brought on board in the framework of the Icaro XV road safety campaign. The initiative is led by the Traffic Department of the State Police, with the contribution of the Ministry of Education and other public and private sector organisations. The FCI plays a central role in the coalition, having produced all the tutorials concerning cycling, which is the core theme of this year’s Icaro. Ambassador of the campaign is Paolo Savoldelli, 2002 and 2005 Giro d’Italia winner and arguably the best descender in modern cycling – a guy who can say a thing or two about the importance of bike handling skills.
On the pro cycling side, it should be noted how the National Traffic Police – simply indispensable to any road race – has a long-standing partnership with Giro d’Italia Organiser RCS Sport. Since 2001, thanks to the joint project Biciscuola, 100,000 children are reached each year – both at school and during the stages of La Corsa Rosa. The focus is on road safety and biking to school.
“Health and safety are our two top priorities in cycling for all, and with bikes we redesign our cities and our life trajectories,” says FCI President Renato di Rocco. “We have the responsibility to teach children about how good cycling is for themselves and for the society. By giving them a correct education, we ensure they can stay as safe as possible on the roads – enjoying cycling all through their lives, staying healthy and preserving the environment.”
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