Academics question ecological footprint of world's largest cycle race

Cardiff University: ‘Tour De France has huge environmental impact’

Three academics from Cardiff University have published a report which labels the Tour De France as having one of the worst ecologically footprints of all worldwide sporting events.

The authors of the report are Dr Andrea Collins from Cardiff University’s School of Planning and Geography and Prof Max Munday and Dr Annette Roberts from Cardiff University’s Business School.

Ahead of the 100th edition of the Tour de France taking place in 2013, the study into the environmental downsides draws on feedback from 1,400 spectators who attended the 2007 race’s opening stage spanning London to Kent. Spectators apprarently travelled an average of 734 kilometers to watch the event at the roadside, bringing £150m to the economy.

The research states that the land required to support the race is 143 times the area of London’s Olympic park.

Dr Collins commented: “Organisers need to be better informed about the local and global environmental impacts that can result from staging a major sport event. Our study of the Tour de France has demonstrated that although events can result in large economic benefits they can also generate significant environmental impacts. These impacts need to be identified from the outset so that practical steps can be taken during the planning stages to reduce them as far as possible. Organisers could also use this environmental information to communicate how successful they have been in reducing the negative impacts associated with the event.

“Major sport events are often used to raise our awareness of particular issues such as the health benefits of physical activity. However, their value as a vehicle for raising public awareness of environmental issues and encouraging spectators to take small, but significant changes has yet to be realised.”

‘The Environmental Impacts of Major Cycling Events: Reflections on the UK Stages of the Tour de France’ report will be distributed to the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) which currently owns and organises the Tour de France, amongst other organisations involved in organising major sporting events in the UK and beyond.

There’s bound to be several arguements for and against taking this research seriously – let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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