Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cycling cities -- they're possible!

In Kaunas, Lithuania, the Mobile 2020 bike parade.
For the past three years, I worked on a project called Mobile 2020 promoting everyday cycling in small communities in the region. We concentrated on 11 countries in Eastern Europe stretching from the Baltics to the Balkans.
Final publication of the Mobile 2020 project, available here.
The work has come to a close and our results are satisfying. The main activity was cycling-promotion seminars for municipal transport officers and planners. We educated them on best practices in infrastructure design, integrated transport planning, communications and cycling services (e.g. bike sharing, internet route finding).

Our curriculum reached at least 359 375 cities (more will be reported in the coming days). Our target at the start of the project was 350 cities, and I remember thinking we'd be lucky to reach half that many. But step by step, we met the target, and then exceeded it. By focussing on small cities, conducting the training in local languages and adapting the curriculum with in-country case studies, we were able to reach hundreds of tranport professionals who had little to no previous acquaintance with state-of-the-art cycling promotion.

In the end, a couple transport officers from each of the 11 project countries were invited to model cycling cities in Germany and the Netherlands. That gave them a first-hand experience of what's possible in city cycling. A Czech transport planner who joined the tour was so bowled over by what he saw that he was texting us throughout his visit expressing gratitude and telling us what an eye-opener it was. It was the first time he'd been to the Netherlands and seen streets with more bicycles than cars. He said he couldn't wait to get back home and set things right in his own town.

I had a similar reaction 10 or so years ago when I visited the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. It was the first time in my life I'd been in a city neighborhood where cyclists ruled the roads. I have to admit it brought tears to my eyes. So I understand exactly how that Czech transport planner felt. And I have to say it was cool being involved in a project that gave the same inspiration to hundreds of people in Central and Eastern Europe -- especially people in a position to influence the transport situation in their communities.

As project evaluator, I wrote a booklet of lessons and recommendations. Of course, I had the help of the project implementers in all the countries, and the technical experts and other partners from Germany and the Netherlands.

The publication is available here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great job! - Congratulations.

Greetings from Kobe/Japan.