Continental and Unipublic advocate for the peaceful coexistence between cyclists and drivers
November 15 th 2019 - 13:08
Continental and La Vuelta have discussed road safety today in Madrid on the occasion of the World Day in Memory of the Victims of Road Traffic Accidents. During a round-table discussion, attendees debated and raised awareness regarding the need to educate both cyclists and drivers about road safety in order to guarantee a better coexistence between the two, thus improving their mobility during the race.
The event is part of the ‘Distánciate’ initiative that Continental, with the support of Unipublic, organiser of La Vuelta, presented last year with the aim to considerably reduce the road accident death toll. Although the numbers have improved with regards to 2017 according to the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT), in 2018 the data continues to be alarming, as the total number of cyclists involved in accidents with victims was 7598. The urgent need to deal with road safety was what led to the creation of ‘Distánciate’, in order to raise road safety awareness among all road users, to develop good practice guidelines, improve the coexistence between cyclists and drivers and contribute to the reduction of road accident fatalities.
The round-table discussion was moderated by Óscar Pereiro, ex-cyclist – Tour de France winner and Ambassador for Continental and La Vuelta– and participants included Jorge Cajal, Communications Director for Continental Tires España; Marco Scarponi, brother of Michele Scarponi, representing Fundación Scarponi; Álvaro Gómez, Director of the DGT’s National Road Safety Observatory; Fernando Muñoz, Vice-President of the Stop Accidentes Foundation; and Martín Giacchetta, amateur cyclist.
Álvaro Gómez, Director of the DGT’s National Road Safety Observatory, began the discussion by pointing out that the bicycle “is an economic, healthy and sustainable mode of transport”, and that it is “a priority for everyone to make it safe”. “The latest data shows that the increase in bicycle use has not resulted in an increase in cyclist deaths. In order to make sure it stays that way, local governments must be responsible for creating friendly, peaceful cities”. He also mentioned the National Bicycle Strategy, created through a consultation process involving administrations and companies within the sector.
During the event, the role of brands in the prevention of road accidents was also emphasised. In the case of Continental, Jorge Cajal, Director of Communications for the company, explained that “Continental has equipped the majority of high-level UCI World Tour teams for many years. Our bicycle tires have earned the recognition of professionals and amateurs alike worldwide and we would like for that renowned excellence in the cycling sector to spread to other vehicles as well. We have to keep in mind that tires are the main active safety element that enable accident prevention when well-maintained. In the case of cycling, bike users are generally more aware of safety, but we have to remember that almost all of them are drivers too”.
Martín Giacchetta, amateur cyclist, added that “it is not a question of having more laws to keep us safe. I would suggest educating young children at school: a civic education program that teaches them to respect the choices of others. Responsible driving should be taught in school, in order to create more respectful, aware and educated drivers later on”. Fernando Muñoz, Vice-President of the Stop Accidentes Foundation, agreed and also argued that “education is essential for everything and, of course, also for road safety. It should be implemented in such a way so that it is addressed in all subjects”. He added that it is important for everyone to be involved from a personal point of view, meaning that “all of us, as individual citizens, have to assume our responsibility in avoiding road accidents and respect the rules so that we may share the common space, whether we are a pedestrian, a driver or a passenger”.
Óscar Pereiro, concluded the event with a reflection. “These types of events are essential for raising awareness and preventing accidents. At a time when cyclists and drivers seem to be at war, we must focus on mutual respect and collaboration in order to avoid unnecessary accidents”. Along the same principle, Marco Scarponi wished to remind us of his brother Michele, a cyclist who won the Giro d’Italia 2011 and died in a road accident in 2017. He explained that “It is important to remember that we are not talking about bicycles and cars, but about people. When we don’t respect the security distance or drive above the speed limit, we are risking the life of someone with parents, siblings, friends and children”.