While many crits are being organised just because we like to race our fixed gear bikes, some crits have a deeper reason to exist. One of those is the #Godsavethecyclists Crit taking place on 30 September in Parc Ruffini in Turin, Italy. The race is organised to create cycling safety awareness regarding cyclists in public traffic in Italy. The reason for Giorgio Favaretto and Selene Casella to organise this crit comes from the fatal traffic accidents of Michele Scarponi, one of the best cyclists in the world at the time, and Nicky Hayden, former Moto-GP rider, who both lost their lives in public traffic while riding their bicycles. We spoke with Giorgio to get to know more about the crit, the reasons to organise it, the goals, and what can be improved for the safety of cyclists in Italy.
Text: Brian Megens
Header Image: Chiara Redaschi
Giorgio on how he got into the sport. “This crit comes from the strong passion for cycling in general. In 2016, Giorgio was still a cyclist of the Elite category and participated in his first fixed-gear event at “Criterium dei Ponti” in Pogliano Milanese. It was love at first sight! He had an accident during qualifying round of Red Hook n.7 of Milan but did not stop … Adrenaline, the fans, screaming people, the big family of the fixed-gear world soon became involved, so much so that he started with Selene the great project of “Rhevo Cycling Project srl”, which was born within the Politecnic of Turin.”
“The idea of organizing this great event in Turin came after the tragic death of Michele Scarponi and Nicky Hayden. We realized that it was right to hear the voice of cyclists riding the Italian roads every day. With the #godsavethecyclists Criterium we want to make everyone understand that cycling is also fun if you follow the right safety rules. Turin was among the first Italian cities to welcome fixed gear bike lovers and we want to give our city a Criterium for everyone.”
“The event is divided into three parts: We will start with the kids, educating them to pedal safely, teaching them all the rules to be observed and things to remember when riding on a bicycle, helmet, flashing lights, bell and reflectors. This will also be useful for adults who often forget the basic principles to keep in the street. There will be a part of debate held by some friends who have joined us in this project and who will be able to answer any question on the bicycle, so we can compare how to improve the situation. There will be a fun and exciting part, the Criterium for fixed-gear bikes. The public will spend a beautiful day dedicated to cycling in all its forms, education, information and entertainment. Combining the theme of road safety for cyclists, education for children, a conference on the safety of cyclists, and finally the crazy world of fixed-gear bikes is definitely a challenge and an important stimulus, but we are ready for it!”
On the question how dangerous it is for a cyclist in Italy, “being a cyclist in Italy is as dangerous as going to war and is demonstrated by the over 250 deadly accidents recorded in 2015 and every 35 hours there is an accident wherein a cyclist’s life is at risk. Italian drivers are very unruly and disrespectful. By now the common place has been created where the cyclist seems to be a traffic jam and this is not good. The bicycle paths of Turin are often occupied by parked cars, glass bottles, and other junk. Cyclists should have the right to ride the roads freely without the fear of being hit by a car or anything else! It is necessary to make it clear that it takes discipline and cooperation also from cyclists to be able to create a situation safe for everyone. To make people understand the situation we have made a video which has the story of 4 cyclists who got hit by a car.”
Giorgio on what can be improved for cyclists, “the ideal would be to build a good network of bike paths, even on the suburb of the city, to enable cyclists to walk the busiest roads safely. It would also be helpful to educate people, starting with children, about using the bike as a means of transport. Too many people use their cars for short journeys, with serious pollution problems and urban mobility.
Although the crit is so much more than ‘just racing’ we of course still asked Giorgio for the course and format info on the race. “The circuit is 1250 meters long, within the Ruffini Park in Turin. It has 3 curves to the left, 2 curves to the right and 1 hairpin to the left, totally flat. There will be 2 qualifying heats in the men’s race both 12 laps. The men’s final will be 24 laps and the B final 15 laps, the same for the women’s final will be 15 laps.