Bikenomics and the Giro d’Italia

Published on Sunday, 18 December 2016

In recent years, bikes have again begun to play a central role in our daily lives, both symbolically and in practice.

This revitalization of cycling represents a way of living and of thinking, one that prefers simplicity, appreciates simple tools, and gives value to the use of muscle energy and that is also symbolic of a desire to take back control over the environment and exalt the importance of space over time. The bicycle has become an icon that conveys a strong message—as a product, as a way of life and as a new form of storytelling—but it has also given rise to its very own economy and theory of economics: bicycle economics, or “bikenomics” for short.

As explained by the European Cyclists’ Federation, the cycling economy encompasses revenues on the sale and rental of bicycles and bike components, the development of cycling infrastructures, the resulting benefits for the environment and for our health and consequent savings in healthcare costs, as well as savings in the use of fuel and the reduction of noise and air pollution. Estimates for the 27 European nations as a whole point to a figure greater than that of the entire GDP of Denmark. Just the production and sale of bicycles and accessories alone generates business volumes on the order of 18 billion euros each year in Europe, while bicycle tourism attracts over 44 billion euros annually.

The Giro d’Italia is the leading cycling event in Italy. In 2017, the Giro will be celebrating its 100th anniversary, and Enel is to be the sponsor of the pink leader’s jersey. For the 2017 edition, Enel will be accompanying the peloton, bringing “new energy” to Italian cities, along with new services and other innovations through a series of initiatives, including “Pink Promotions” at the Open Village and free test rides of electric bikes.

Itinerant events like the Giro d’Italia are excellent opportunities both to promote new initiatives throughout the country and to encourage environmentally friendly practices. For the most recent edition of the Giro, the project Ride Green sought to promote a culture of differentiated waste collection along the roads of the race and to demonstrate, stage after stage, the environmental and economic benefits of recycling and of the circular economy. Through partnerships with the local authorities at each stage, Ride Green collected 56,000 kilograms of waste (of which: 6,771 kg of organic waste; 34,798 kg of paper and cardboard; 3,964 kg of plastic and metal; and 2,114 kg of glass), 84% of which was recycled or reused. The extraordinary success of this initiative was made possible with the help of cooperatives, volunteers and the general public and showed how it is possible to manage sports and entertainment in a sustainable manner by involving the community.

The 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia will certainly be full of other surprises from the worlds of cycling and the circular economy, with other initiatives around Italy serving as an early indicator. In Turin, for example, there is the project Biciclabile, which focuses on recovering bicycles that have been abandoned in police impounds. These bikes are then restored by disabled people and used for social good or resold at controlled prices in order to help fund the initiative. It is an example from the circular economy that unites both social and environmental good.

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