The brother of the late Michele Scarponi has made an impassioned plea for a culture change regarding road safety to reduce the high number of deaths and accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians.
Michele Scarponi was killed near his home in Filottrano in the Marche region in April, just days after winning the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps, as he prepared to lead the Astana team at the Giro d'Italia. Investigations into his death are ongoing but it has been reported that the driver of the vehicle that struck him had been looking at his phone at the time of the fatal collision.
On Monday, Marco Scarponi wrote a moving letter to the Corriere della Seranewspaper in response to an offer from Paralympic hand cycling champion Alex Zanardi to lead a campaign against drivers distracted by using mobile phones at the wheel.
Marco called for a change of mentality, highlighting that every car user could potentially cause the death of a cyclist or pedestrian.
"Perhaps it's time to leave the car in the garage instead of using it to drive a few metres to our children's school, the shops or the bar," he wrote. "A healthy, sustainable and safe way of life depends on how we use the roads. Whether we like it or not, and as much as we believe ourselves to be innocent, we are all involved and all potentially guilty of a massacre."
Marco revealed that the Scarponi family plan to create a foundation to help improve road safety. "Michele's smile will save many lives," he wrote, concluding his letter.
A moving appeal for better road safety
Marco and his sister Silvia attended the presentation of the 2018 Tour of the Alps in Milan on Tuesday, with race organisers remembering Michele with a tribute video showing his victory in Innsbruck and his happy celebrations.
Marco and Silvia struggled to hold back their emotions but were proud to hear that Michele will be remembered with a special prize for outstanding teamwork during each stage, with a donation being made to a local voluntary group.
"Seeing all the affection from so many people has helped us, and especially our parents, overcome the pain of his loss," Silvia said.
Marco Scarponi reiterated his call for improved road safety.
"The official statistics in Italy are clear. In 2016, a cyclist was killed every day. Two pedestrians are killed every day and there are 4,000 road accident victims a year. This shows we have a huge problem and these numbers occur year after year. It's time to do something, not only with education but also regarding how roads are designed and how the traffic is controlled," Marco said.
"I've asked myself everyday since Michele's death: how do cyclists manage to train out on the road? They do it, but it's very dangerous. There's a real risk that someone sets off from home for a ride and doesn't come back. We've got to do something to change things, to save lives."