The Northern Italian city of Ferrara (134.000 inhabitants), situated in the plains of the river Po and capital of the province of Emilia Romagna, is a cycling city par excellence. Four out of ten trips are made by bicycle, and the bicycle is used by all social groups, by people of all age groups, by men and women, boys and girls, for all purposes, all over the year. Citizens of Ferrara say, that little children get their first bicycle before they have learned to walk. With this high share of cycling, Ferrara is not only by far Italy's cycling city number one. It is also among the best cycling cities in Europe.

The size and spatial structure of Ferrara are favourable to cycling: Ferrara is a mono-centric city with some wards in a distance of maximum 5km. Its fortified medieval and Renaissance city centre has been declared world cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Like in many other European cities, the bicycle was the dominant means of transport during the first half of the century. For long time, it was the only vehicle available for the journeys between homes and fields or factories. Cycling was always - and still is regarded as a usual means of transport, for which the transport policy has to pay attention.

The lack of alternatives, the efficiency of the bicycle, the protected city centre and the compact urban structure, the slow economic development after World War II, all these are factors which are in favour of cycling and which have led to the development of a cycling culture in Ferrara.

Since 1995, Ferrara is having a pro-active cycling policy, which is an integrated part of the urban policy of a sustainable city, and which is made up by a policy to curb car use. In the concept of 'new mobility' of Ferrara, the bicycle plays the main role in a multi-modal mobility mix of car pooling, car sharing, taxi busses, collective taxis etc.

The city of Ferrara is trying to improve the social basis for its cycling policy, and is thus actively searching for public and private partners who co-operate and support the local cycling policy.

With its high share of cycling, Ferrara is an exception in Italy. There is neither a national cycling strategy nor a knowledge centre that could make cycling expertise and experience accessible, and thus support the local policy. Not until two years ago, there is a national law for the financing of local cycling measures. This means, that the city of Ferrara has been forced to look abroad for best practice, experience and expertise.
International communication networks, conferences and projects are very useful for the cycling policy of Ferrara. Especially the European city network Cities for Cyclists has proven to be extremely useful for Ferrara.

The lack of best practice nearby means that the city of Ferrara repeatedly has had to enter untouched ground. As a consequence, the best solution has not always been found directly, also because engineering measures from abroad, that have proven their effectivity, are not applicable to a medieval and Renaissance city centre.

The strong anchorage of cycling in the urban life of Ferrara, where the bicycle is just a commodity, makes sure that cycling policy is regarded as a permanent task rather than a project for one legislative period only, depending of the political colour of the actual local government. This is a good basis for the continuity of the cycling policy.



It has managed as LP and partner several Interreg III-A, III-B, III-C and Life projects, as: ACIND, ADRIA-LINK, ADRIA-SAFE, ADRIA-TUR, AIA, AMICA, CLEAR, ECO-LAND, ITACA, MISTER, NEW, FAREADRI, WATERCYCLE, ECA & many other projects within EU
programmes (Cultura 2000, Youth 5th FP for R& TD etc.). 

With a cycling infrastructure of approx.  200 km, a comprehensive Master Plan on cycling, a rate of urban trips over than 30%, Ferrara is a leading area in the cycling mobility in Italy and Europe. The Province has accumulated in the years a wide know-how, which is now put at disposal of the other partners of BICY.

As LP, it coordinates the project implementation, prepares technical & financial reporting, provides communication among PPs, promotes & runs the SC trans-national meetings & a final conference.  

Through BICY project Province of Ferrara will raise trans-national mutual visibility & learning with the introduction of new services and innovative solutions (inter-modal bike-train, bike-boat counter-bikers satellite navigators, MP3 technologies etc.) 

BICY Implemented in the Central Europe Programme (www.central2013.eu) is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).