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Elena Cecchini – We need to talk about road safety

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Hello to all the Voxwomen community and Happy New Year everyone!

2017 is already far away and the holidays and off-season are only a good memory to think about during my training sessions.

Heading towards the new racing season I want to talk to you about one really important topic. It is a situation that can only improve if we talk and inform people about it: SAFETY ON THE ROAD.

Being a cyclist, I spend a lot of time on the road – let’s say that roads are my office. I change office almost every day, being so lucky to do a job that takes me around the world, giving me the chance to see and experience different cultures, places and education.

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Through my career, I have experienced a real worsening of the behaviour of drivers towards cyclists, almost everywhere, but especially in countries where there is not a big cycling culture.

For example, last November I had the big opportunity to race Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge, and together with some team mates we decided to stay a bit longer in South Africa to have some good training in the warm African weather combined with a lot of tourist stuff. We did love being there, but the traffic and danger we experienced on the roads was the worst ever. There I really felt we were somehow risking our lives every day.

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Talking about where I live, in Udine, I can honestly say that also here things are getting worse. My city doesn’t have a lot of traffic, and knowing the roads, I’m always trying to avoid rush hours and city centres. But I can simply categorise dangerous drivers in two groups: the cyclist haters and the careless.

The first group behave truly badly – they seem to hate cyclists and do not understand our job and our passion. The second group is simply not careful, and in most of the cases they are so focused on doing something else while driving – like using the phone, changing channel on the radio or looking around – that they do not see us. But that doesn’t mean they are forgivable.

I experienced some very safe and relaxed rides when in Holland, thanks to the many bike paths and the culture and education that drivers have toward people on their bikes. That’s a cause and a consequence of the many people that use their bike to go to work, school, shopping or just for pleasure. Well done, Holland 🙂

The campaign A Metre Matters, in memory of Amy Gillett who was tragically killed training in Germany, is really important to encourage drivers to overtake cyclists carefully and safely.

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As a cyclist, I feel the responsibility to talk about it to as many people I can, sharing my ideas, my experience and my thoughts. Doing it through this blog is a big chance!

We need to be respectful toward the drivers and they need to do the same with us, roads are big enough for both.

Attention, tolerance and respect are the three values that could make our rides more enjoyable and safer!

I wish you all a safe ride through 2018. See you soon on the road!

Elena



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