Under normal circumstances, nearly 200 professional cyclists would have celebrated the finish of the 103rd Giro d’Italia in front of the Piazza del Duomo in the center of Milan Sunday.
But these are not normal times and as a result of coronavirus crisis, this year’s Giro has been moved to October.
But that did not stop 400 cyclists from showing up in a impressive flash mob called “Milano Cambia Giro.” The spontaneous movement was organized by no less than 70 cycling associations, all pushing for more cycling mobility in the city. Milan, one of the cities hit hardest by COVID-19, hopes to significantly reduce the flow of automobiles and city mayor Giuseppe Sala is aggressively pursuing a green change in this Italy’s northern industrial capital.
In some ways the flash mob didn’t look like much. After all, thousands can fill the Piazza del Duomo rather than the hundreds on hand yesterday. But “Milano Cambia Giro,” also wanted to ensure adequate social distancing.
Some cyclists showed up with a rose cut-out of the pink newspaper Gazzetto dello Sport, the Italian sports daily that sponsors the Giro d’Italia. Marino Vigna, Olympic pursuit gold medalist in the 1960 Games in Rome was on hand with his 1960s Bianchi. At 81, he would certainly be considered one of the most vulnerable participants, considering how devastating the coronavirus has been on the elderly. But he wanted to show his support for what he considered a key historical moment.
“It is a period of great changes and the new normal requires us to make sustainable choices that favor mobility on two wheels,” said Lorenzo Lipparini, counselor for the Participation of the Municipality of Milan.
Already the city has announced sweeping changes in light of the COVID-19 crisis, and the lockdown showed drastic improvements in air conditions in a city that has long struggled to combat pollution.
As a result, over 30 kilometers of roads within the downtown are set to be transformed into bike lanes. And “Milano Cambia Giro” hopes to play an active role in the change, and propose working with the government to ensure that that the new bike lanes are at least somewhat designed by cyclists.