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Title:

Cycling for All: Meet members of the UCI Eco-Cyclo Patrol

Date:

17.07.2013

Description:

Since the beginning of the year, the International Cycling Union supports the Eco-Cyclo programme which spreads messages about the protection of the environment at Cycling for All events. The spokespeople for this movement are around 60 volunteer cyclists who join the peloton in the form of a “patrol”. Three of them explain the reasons why they take time to do this.

 

Thierry Saint-LĂ©ger

“The behaviour of cyclists is clearly improving”

- French, aged 56 

- Lives in Florac (Lozère)

- Works in technical services of a hospital

- Cyclist since: 1999

 

I have been part of the Eco-Cyclo patrol since it was created in 2006. At first we were just a group of friends. Today we have expanded; we are present at an ever increasing number of events in order to spread our message. My personal philosophy has always been respect: of humans (others and myself) and of “Mother Nature.” Sport is a big family, united by respect.

We are well-known in the peloton now, especially since we changed our jerseys this season with the design proposed by the UCI. The Eco-Cyclo programme has had a positive effect over the years. We haven’t gone into this for nothing. For example, this year, I have only had to make two or three remarks at an event. One of them even apologised: he was attacking a climb and hadn’t thought about stopping to pick up the tube of his energy gel. In this kind of case, I try to make them realise how ridiculous the situation is and the impact it will have on future generations: “There’s no point leaving your wrapper on the ground, your children will end up finding it one day.”

The protection of the environment is a shared responsibility. The organisers have to be attentive: provide bins in feed zones, ensure there are zones for leaving rubbish, for example at the top of mountain passes, disqualify participants who don’t follow the rules... The cyclists have an important responsibility and our patrol is there to remind them. Our role is prevention but not to take on the tone of “police.” But I would like the different brands of energy products to invest in this area as well, by proposing recyclable packaging and stopping to distribute, at the start of some events, hundreds of products that are nearing their “use by” date. The behaviour of cyclists is clearly improving. Everyone involved in sport should follow this trend.

 

Marie Luciani

“The simple fact that the patrol is present is beneficial”

- French, aged 44

- Lives in Mennecy, near Paris.

- Works as a translator.

- Cyclist since: 2012

I discovered cycling on June 2nd 2012. I had a sudden desire to get involved in this sport. Cycling for all is a balance: a competitive spirit but not too much, distance but not too far, a collective and individual adventure at the same time. These are the same values that we find in the Eco-Cyclo patrol. A friend proposed that I join this group and I accepted, because I wanted to commit myself to this sport that was so new to me.

The behaviour of participants in Cycling for All events is varied. Some are already throwing their gel tubes on the ground in the starting area. One didn’t even want to stop for five seconds when he dropped a wrapper just in front of me. I think the adrenalin and the passion for competition sometimes goes to the heads of certain participants who are in the top positions. Fortunately, we also see a majority of cyclists who share our wish to respect the regions and the countryside that we go through. And remember that we can only continue participating in these sort of events on the condition that there is this respect for nature.

The simple fact that the Eco-Cyclo patrol is present is beneficial. I think it serves as a reminder and means we can avoid gestures that are out of order. Some know who we are and what we do, and others come and talk to us, even in the middle of a race in a climb or when we were riding in the snow in Spring! The reactions are friendly. That’s a good sign: the sensitivity of the eco-citizen is progressing in cycling.

 

Rob Alpen

“Underline the environmental impact of 10,000 cyclists”

- British/American, aged 36

- Lives in Geneva, Switzerland

- Works in finance

- Cyclist since: 2009

I saw so many summits at the Tour de France covered in wrappers that I decided to join the Eco-Cyclo programme in 2012. The message is passed on fairly well to the other participants. Not only do we have riders of different levels, who are just as capable of riding in the lead bunch or accompanying the last groups, but we are increasingly present on the international calendar. We have members from the United Kingdom, Spain, the United States, France, Switzerland and more....

When I see a rider get rid of rubbish, I talk to him in a joking manner: “Next time, instead of throwing your rubbish on the ground, give it to me and I’ll carry it for you!” Most of the time the person is understanding. One of the best occasions to talk about the environment is in the feed zone, which is a risky spot because the riders get rid of their papers after drinking and eating. It is a place where people slow down a bit and have time to exchange a few words.

I notice responsible behaviour in certain regions rather than countries: in the Swiss and French Alps, a lot of cyclists respect the countryside. It would be good to underline the environmental impact of 10,000 cyclists, which is the figure reached in the biggest events. If we informed the participants at the start, they would surely pay more attention to their interaction with the environment. In certain UCI events for the professionals, the organisers provide green zones where rubbish is collected and where riders can get rid of their waste. Professionals need to set an example. But many cyclists are already sensitive to the question of respect for the environment.

Photo: the UCI Eco-Cyclo Patrol is present at an increasing number of Cycling for All events

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