Motorcycles and the Environment? Naturally!
Does the word KiSS ring any bells with you? I suppose you all think about the primary meaning of the word, an embrace, but it is much more than that…it is the short name of the Keep it Shiny & Sustainable project launched by the International Sustainability Commission (CID) of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM).
Through this programme, the FIM and its Sustainability Commission, under its Director Kattia Juarez, set out to minimise the impact of the Motorcycling Grand Prix events on the environment. The main objective of the KiSS programme is to organise sustainable sports event with proper environmental management, and to raise awareness among all those involved in an event about the need to reduce its impact on the environment.
But in reality, how do they achieve all that? Last week I had the pleasure of working as a VOLUNTEER (in capitals because it is thanks to the work of volunteers that sports events are organised at all) with the KiSS ANDORRA programme team of the Federación Motociclista de Andorra who are experts in this type of exercise. They were the winners of the first FIM Environmental Award in 2013 and again in 2015 when they implemented the KiSS ANDORRA programme during the Trial World Championship, the first KiSS programme organised during an off-road event, as it had previously been associated with MotoGP events on closed circuits. With its motivated team led by Natalia Gallego, I had no hesitation in contributing my grain of sand to this great project during the celebration of the Word TrialGP in Andorra.
All this work starts well before the weekend of the race. Natalia, together with the Federación Motociclista de Andorra, carefully selected the area where the Trial sections and the paddock would be situated, ensuring at all times that they are not excessively sensitive in terms of potential damage to the flora and fauna. Once they knew where everything would go, they started to clean up the woodland and to equip the Paddock with everything the participants would need during the event to wash their motorcycles in a special area, dispose of waste selectively with a recycling point for all types of refuse… They also placed rubbish containers in the competition sections together with information panels to pass on the sustainable message of the KiSS programme.
Trial sections with KiSS ANDORRA information
Once all the teams started to arrive in Andorra to take part in the Championship, we, the team of volunteers known as the “Green Team”, had to go and inspect the Paddock area to ensure that the riders and their teams were complying with the environmental rules contained in the FIM Environmental Code. We checked that every motorcycle had its environmental mat (during any handling or repair), so that no oil would fall on the ground, and that no detergents were being used in the washing area.
KiSS ANDORRA Stickers
On the Saturday, the action started with the technical verifications on the motorcycles. Among other things, the Technical Stewards checked that all the technical rules introduced to protect the environmental were being complied with (sound levels, fuel, tyres). Once the technical verifications had been completed, the first activity of the KiSS ANDORRA programme could begin. Every rider was issued with a KiSS Sticker for his helmet or his motorcycle as a sign that he was respecting the FIM Environmental Code. The riders then signed another sticker with illustrations related to the environment and wrote messages on sustainability which were attached to an artificial tree that we had set up for the purpose.
Artificial tree full of riders’ messages
Although some may think that it is just posturing, in reality, the fact that the riders do these things is very important. Firstly for them, as some of the riders were not aware of the existence of the KiSS ANDORRA programme, and then for the people who follow and admire them as role models. As in any sport, the fans always follow the example of their favourite athletes.
Inauguration KiSS ANDORRA section
The same Saturday, in the afternoon, before the Qualification, the KiSS ANDORRA Trial section was inaugurated in the presence of the Andorran Minister of the Environment, the Mayor of the city hosting the competition, the Director of the FIM Sustainability Commission, Kattia Juarez, and one of the FIM’s Ride Green Ambassadors, Honda rider Takahisa Fujinami.
In the Qualification section, which was decorated with elements reflecting the KiSS programme (for example panels on the theme of “Ride Green”, the KiSS ANDORRA logo, drawings of lips…), we, the Green Team, started to implement the core activity of the programme with the distribution of a KiSS KIT. “What is a KiSS KIT?, I hear you ask. It is a canvas bag containing bags for sorting different types of waste for recycling (for when the spectators went up to the Trial Sections), a KiSS sticker, a kiss bracelet, the event programme (with information on KiSS), an Andorra cap and a portable ashtray.
We continued with the promotion of KiSS ANDORRA on the Sunday of the race at the “KISS point” which was located in the area with the most Trial sections. There, we handed out KiSS KITS and informed the public about the photo competition. People were invited to take photographs of themselves performing some form of environmental action and enter them in the competition to win tickets for the MotoGP, the Caldea-Inúu thermal centre or a show by the Cirque du Soleil. This was an ideal way to involve Trial fans in efforts to preserve nature during the competition.
Finally, once the day of competition was over and people headed towards the final podium, we the GreenTeam went through the various Trial sections to check that people had made good use of the rubbish bags they had been issued with.
Experts working alongside volunteers – often when I talk about this project, people fail to grasp the relationship between motorcycling and nature. But there is an important relationship. By the simple fact of trying to leave everything as it was and even improve it, we are doing an enormous amount. And obviously awareness raising is also very important. Since Natalia introduced me to the world of sustainability, I have always tried to put into practice everything that she taught me at the events I have organised. And at events I have been to as a journalist, or simply as a spectator, I cannot help but worry about whether there are sufficient rubbish containers! For that reason, I would encourage all sports event organisers to implement, if not a fully fledged KiSS programme, at least a plan to facilitate recycling, eliminate pollution and encourage the use of public transport… in other words, everything they can to help minimise the impact of people and motorcycles on our planet!
Words and pictures Meritxell Pey Pino
(Translation by Ruth Griffiths)