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Valongo embraces active mobility to improve quality of life and tackle energy crisis

8 December 2022

In 2022, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK promoted Better Connections to improve sustainable mobility policies, practices and behaviours across Europe, and beyond. As the year comes to a close, we sat down with Alderman Paulo Esteves Ferreira of Valongo, Portugal - a 2021 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award winner - to learn how the municipality is using sustainable mobility to strengthen connections in the local community, reduce its carbon footprint and to tackle the ongoing energy crisis.

What did it mean to Valongo to win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award for smaller municipalities in 2021?

Besides being a surprise, we were filled with pride and the feeling that we are doing the right thing. Sometimes we have an idea - a strategy for the city - but that does not mean it is right. Each person has their own opinion and their own truth, so sometimes we think something is right and it might not be. But when someone from outside, impartial and within the scope of [many] applications tells a small town in Portugal that they are [doing something] right, it is a joy and brings great pride to be recognised for doing things well.

What are the objectives of the sustainable mobility transformations in the city?

We were elected in October 2013, and the idea has always been that we will be here for a maximum of 12 years because that is what the law allows us with a three-term limit. Therefore, we thought, “what are we going to do to receive this municipality and transform it into something better? And what is this 'something better'?” There was an image that was very attached to Valongo of being a dormitory city, a crossing city where people just pass through. There are those who sleep [here] because they are going to work in Porto, but it is cheaper to live here. We want to change this image of a dormitory city, a crossing city, to an image of a city where people can really live, and live with quality of life.

Is there anything in particular that you are most proud of or that you think worked better for people in terms of mobility transformations?

The [measure] that had a greater impact, with a relatively low investment, is what we did on Lagueirões Avenue, where we had four car lanes and we removed one on each side to get people to run. It is an example of what we want to do in terms of changing the importance of the car in the city and passing this importance on to the people. However, there was a lot of resistance at first. I was even confronted by some people who lived there. Now, I think it is unthinkable [for Lagueirões Avenue] not to be like that. If another political executive comes along and wants to change it, people will not accept it.

There is usually some resistance to changes on roads or spaces for cars from the population. How did Valongo deal with this?

It is worse in small towns than in big cities because in big cities people who don't like it don't complain to anyone. There are many people who don't live there, who just work and visit, so it's easier to accept. In the small town, people complain directly to us, everyone knows each other and we are directly confronted when we go out on the street. I am confronted frequently. What I do first is to explain what we are doing and ask what exactly is wrong because many times the person does not even know what is wrong.

We are not doing this to upset people; we want to please, not displease. If we want to be politicians with a long-term strategic vision, we have to have the courage to do things that people often don't immediately recognise, but eventually will, as happened with Lagueirões Avenue. At first there was a lot of criticism, but now everyone thinks it’s spectacular. Right now, those who live there say that their houses have increased in value, however, that recognition took half a year.

The 2022 theme for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK is Better Connections. How can citizens make use of these sustainable mobility transformations to better connect with other people, places and new ways of getting around?

Returning to what I said at the beginning, there were many people who only came to Valongo to sleep. They get in their cars, enter the garage, enter the elevator, and go home. When one wants to do something, they go to the elevator, garage, get in the car and leave to go to the supermarket, to the cinema or out of town. And what we're trying to do is give people an opportunity to remember that they can do things within the city, like take a walk, see the shops, talk to other people, go to the mountains... There is even a workshop for kids to understand the importance of Valongo. We are creating a set of possible outdoor infrastructures. We are going to hold municipal art workshops, create bike paths to connect these points, and work on riverbanks so that people can walk along the river. Instead of going to the seaside, you can walk along the riverside here. This is what will lead people to connect with themselves and with the city, develop social ties with their neighbours and create a face-to-face social network. So this is the transformation, which in the future will certainly last. There is no going back.

Europe is experiencing an energy crisis. How does Valongo deal with increases in energy and fuel prices through sustainable mobility policies? Is there a connection between the two?

Yes, because by creating these possibilities to use other means of transport, we are giving an alternative to the car. Travelling by car is very expensive, so now people can walk to the centre, which is not as dangerous as it used to be. By creating these tours and projects related to bicycles, we are giving adults and children another option. Parents usually pick up their children by car, which wastes fuel and is expensive, but children will be able to move around on foot or by bicycle because now it is safe. When we bet on these soft modes and invest in more sidewalks and bike lanes, we are giving an opportunity to reduce spending on fossil fuels and gasoline. Walking is also much more economical.

We have [also] renovated public transport, for example, our train stations to make them more inviting, but also to support intermodality. It is a transfer from bus to train, bus to bicycle, to create alternatives so that people can leave the car and, therefore, reduce their carbon footprint. And we've already done something else in this regard, which was to change all the public lighting that used to be conventional fixtures to LED coating - all public lighting. There are still municipalities that are in this process, we have already surpassed it, and we have also reduced this footprint a lot. Everything we have been doing is clearly aimed at decarbonising and helping to have a better future.

Learn more about Valongo, here.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Donate your bicycle to support aid workers in Ukraine

2 December 2022

On 24 February, 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine. Despite months of bombing and violent attacks, the people of Ukraine continue to show incredible resilience. The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK National Coordinator for Ukraine, Lesya Loyko, shares some of the central challenges that Ukraine faces as a result of the immense damage to its public transportation infrastructure, and how you can help.

Among the many consequences of Russia’s invasion, mobility and people’s ability to get around have been severely impacted. What impacts have you seen?

In the very first period after the war started, public transport was immediately stopped because it was unclear how the shelling or bombing would happen. The enterprises responsible for running the services for public transport were afraid of what would happen if people were in trolley buses or trams. Also, the role of public transport changed: many buses were mobilised to transport people from areas under shelling to safe places. Green corridors were organised and about 50 buses were just transporting people [to safety]. On the other hand, the subway - also public transport - was being used as a shelter, especially in the capital city. Each night people moved to the subway, so it was open 24 hours.

When the situation improved a bit and stabilised, public transport began again, but was facing challenges due to fuel shortages. Unfortunately, many fleets were just hit by missiles and bombs and transport enterprises lost buses, trolleys and trams. For electric transport, the network has also been destroyed and there are kilometres of it that will need to be rebuilt. Mayors understand the importance of public transport and are really investing every effort to get it up and running again. There were periods in some cities that transport was free of charge so that at least people could get to medical centres and so on.

In spite of all the challenges you mentioned, you still had some towns and cities participating in this year’s EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK. How was the effort to engage them? What did they focus on?

I noticed that, interestingly, the activities that were organised were patriotic. For example, in the City of Lviv there are two great initiatives. One is ‘Bike, Friend!,’ which is very moving because they try to find local people who bike and connect them with internally displaced people fleeing the war. Lviv got 150,000 new people as a result of the war over a few months. This initiative is trying to connect these people so they can share bikes. Another one is a social bike sharing scheme for internally displaced people. If you are registered you receive some support from the state and those who have registered as internally displaced can apply to get bikes brought from Europe. Then you can rent a bike for a week and return it so someone else can use it. Sometimes people’s cars are damaged or they have had to leave [their home] with two bags, maybe a cat or dog. They have what they brought and that’s it.

Also, some cities implemented permanent measures. It was a challenge because we have a law now, because of the war, that states that municipalities can only spend money on repairs because all of the money is being collected for the army and people. So even if our municipalities did permanent measures like the improvement of pavements or small things, like street crossings, it was also important.

It seems that the bike is now a critical tool for Ukraine.

When all this chaos was happening the bicycle was the saving means of moving for some people. It’s at home, it’s easy to use, even for escaping. I know cases where they would put two bigger bags on a bike and escape, using them as carriage transport. Those NGOs who were actively promoting bikes before the war continue to do so. For example, in the capital city Kyiv, a bicycle count is organised twice a year and they even managed to do it earlier this summer. For this event, people physically go out to certain streets and count how many bicycles go through in the morning, in the evening, on a working day, weekend day, etc. Actually, the numbers didn't drop. People continue to use bicycles despite the danger. Now there is a national campaign Vision Zero - meaning zero deaths on the road - and one of the messages behind this [for us] is that people are killed in the war so let’s put some effort in to ensure that people are not killed on the road. The situation is difficult, but at least the people I know are enthusiastic and want to make the country even better than it was before the war.

You helped launch a campaign called #BikesforUkraine with six NGOs. Can you tell us a little bit more about it and how people can support it?

This campaign is meant to help those cities who have suffered most from the Russian invasion. Cities where the infrastructure has been destroyed, where people have left and neighbours or relatives in need are stuck in the city and it is difficult to reach them. #BikesforUkraine is about collecting new and old bikes, spare parts, donations to support volunteers, social workers, medical workers, those who are really the helping hand for people who are in a desperate situation. These bicycles are distributed among organisations within the cities that help other people.

How one can help: it’s easy. We are a coalition of six NGOs that started this initiative and anyone who would like to help Ukraine in a good, humanistic, positive way can contact us. We have contacts that we share and we can explain more about how the campaign works.

If someone has a few bikes and would like to send them to you, what should they do?

There are hundreds of ways this can happen, but let’s give an example of Freiburg (Germany) which is a sister city to Lviv. Freiburg already organises different kinds of support like medicine, food, and mattresses and is sending this to Ukraine. Knowing this we can go to Lviv and ask them when the next shipment from Freiburg will come. Then we could say, would you please pick up three bikes for us?

To organise the donation, drop off or delivery of bikes, fill out this form.
For more information about the #BikesforUkraine campaign, visit the website: here.
Contact info@avk.org.ua for more information.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Reduce fuel consumption and build better connections with regular Car-Free Days

21 October 2022

It’s been almost a month since EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s main event came to a close on World Car-Free Day. 2,988 towns and cities from 51 countries registered sustainable mobility awareness-raising events and activities from 16 - 22 September. Many participated by organising their very own car-free day or weekend. But cities and towns don’t have to wait for World Car-Free Day, or EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s main event, to coordinate a car-free day.

In light of Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine and the need to drastically reduce Europe’s dependency on (Russian) fossil fuels as quickly as possible – as detailed in the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan - there has never been a better time to organise a monthly or weekly car-free day. The Clean Cities Campaign estimates that one weekly car-free day in all major European cities could reduce Europe’s annual oil consumption from urban transport by 3 – 5%. This is equivalent to having the European workforce work from home three days a week or 0.63% - 1.10% of the EU’s total annual oil consumption, which is the same as annual oil demand from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In addition to a reduction in fuel consumption, organising more regular car-free days would improve local traffic congestion while lowering related air and noise pollution levels. Car-free days are also a wonderful opportunity for residents of all ages to form better connections with their peers, public transport and the city or town in which they live: just ask the 1,191 towns and cities that recorded a car-free day during EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s main event week in 2022.

And for those local authorities who have not yet been able to coordinate a car-free day or who are wondering where to start, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has got you covered! Our ‘How to organise a Car-Free Day in 10 steps’ infographic will help you prepare your town or city for its very first car-free day.

No matter how many towns and cities are able to organise, any car-free day is a great way to further promote sustainable urban mobility and its many benefits, while significantly reducing fuel consumption.

EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK launches new award to spotlight impactful mobility management

13 October 2022

Thanks to hundreds of registered MOBILITYACTIONs, the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign has witnessed innovative initiatives by civil society organisations, businesses and schools that improve sustainable urban mobility and steer Europe towards a climate-neutral future. To reward these critical efforts, the European Commission has launched the MOBILITYACTION Award.

Schools, companies, citizen initiatives, and more, have always been an essential part of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s mission to promote sustainable urban mobility and encourage the adoption of more sustainable travel behaviours. Impactful mobility management is an effective way for institutions and organisations to influence people’s travel choices for the greater good, while providing practical solutions to enable this behavioural change.

But, what exactly is mobility management? According to the EU Urban Mobility Framework it is:

“A concept to promote sustainable transport and manage the demand for car use by changing travellers' attitudes and behaviour, in particular at the level of companies, organisations and institutions."

The newly-minted MOBILITYACTION Award seeks to highlight the importance of mobility management and planning, as well as measures and strategies which have a notable impact on sustainable mobility, such as: encouraging active transport, supporting the use of shared/public transport, enabling a shift towards more sustainable transport options, improving environmental factors/reducing emissions, creating educational campaigns, encouraging positive behavioural change, increasing safety, improving accessibility and user convenience, reclaiming green/public space and improving liveability for residents.

MOBILITYACTIONs that encompass replicable solutions hold the greatest potential for the award, as these initiatives can be widely shared and implemented.

Applications are now open and will be accepted until 31 October 2022. For more information about the award, eligibility and the application process, please visit our dedicated MOBILITYACTION Award page and consult the Call for Applications.

 

 

An interview with Rethymno, winner of the EU Urban Road Safety Award

24 August 2022

Achieving Vision Zero – a global movement to end traffic fatalities – is an important part of
2021 EU Urban Road Safety Award winner Rethymno’s holistic strategy to promote sustainable, safe and healthy mobility for both residents and tourists. EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK heard from Georgios Marinakis, Mayor of Rethymno, about the city’s continued plan to prioritise road safety, while setting an example for others.

In the spring, Rethymno impressed the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK jury with its inclusive approach to road safety, which targets three pillars: 1) upgrading the public transport system to provide better options for the community, 2) increasing and encouraging behavioural change through different activities and 3) fostering integrated cooperation with a variety of local stakeholders.

What does winning the EU Urban Road Safety Award mean for Rethymno?

For Rethymno, winning the EU Urban Road Safety Award is a confirmation of our long journey, which started 15 years ago, with strategic planning and orientation towards the principles of sustainable mobility in the public space with an emphasis on accessibility for people with disabilities and the elderly, and generally to anyone with difficulties when moving around an urban environment.
Obviously this award is a motivation for our public authority and society to continue with interventions and policies in this direction. Rethymno, which is a popular touristic destination, strengthens its reputation with this award, especially concerning road safety issues.

What are the next steps for Rethymno to continue moving toward Vision Zero and ensuring that its roads are safer?

It is very important to build on and coordinate the progress made so far. The tools that our municipality already has in this direction will be enhanced and will continue to develop because each of us really is making an effort to make all our road crossings safe so that people with mobility difficulties and those who are visually impaired can move around independently without the risk of accident. The city’s current state for road safety is exceptional since road accidents are extremely reduced, thus moving the ‘Vision’ towards zero in Rethymno.

This vision is enhanced by the extensive cooperation between Rethymno’s Traffic Police and stakeholders as well as by taking advantage of the data already available, which all enable the mobility patterns in the city to improve significantly.

What advice would you give other cities looking to improve road safety? What elements are most important to consider when working on road safety?

The key to achieving road safety improvements is determination because established interests and behaviour, as well as the high political cost, are obstacles to integrating the principles of sustainable mobility in the city. Nowadays, the need to further promote sustainable mobility has been demonstrated by the current energy crisis which forces environmental footprints to increase, causing extreme weather conditions. In order to achieve the targeted results, the planning process should not be partial, but instead should be part of a wider integrated strategic planning process and should be combined with a learning process at all levels – educating students, professional drivers and the public about sustainable modes and commuting with safety.

Are you interested in learning more about road safety activities in your community? Check out our participation page to see what activities towns and cities are organising this year.

An interview with Tampere, winner of the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning

20 July 2022

This spring, Tampere, Finland won the 10th Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning. EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK caught up with Deputy Mayor Aleksi Jäntti to discuss what the award means for the city and its future sustainability endeavours.

As a rapidly growing urban area, Tampere is working to create a liveable, inclusive city for all. Its multidisciplinary approach to sustainable urban mobility planning empowers its residents to make healthier mobility choices that are active, safe and environmentally friendly. The City's winning sustainable urban mobility plan includes an impact assessment of the effect that mobility campaigns have on the local population. The plan also spotlights low-carbon mobility, road safety, vulnerable groups, smart mobility solutions, physical and mental well-being, accessibility and low pollution levels to ensure a holistic approach to mobility.

What does winning the Award for Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning (SUMP) Award mean for Tampere?

Winning the SUMP Award is a great pride and joy! Our City’s development and work to promote sustainable mobility has really been recognised. The Tampere City Strategy introduces Tampere as ‘the city of action.’ Last year, 2021, is more than excellent proof of this: Our SUMP was accepted, and both new and improved possibilities for sustainable mobility were introduced.

The award, for its part, shows that we are on the right track and encourage us to go on with the implementation of measures and sustainability.

How does sustainable mobility fit into Tampere’s vision for a sustainable, resilient city?

It fits very well! The goal of carbon neutrality sets the target for the future modal split in Tampere. But sustainability goes far beyond only reducing emissions. The shift from individual motorised transport towards public and active mobility modes takes Tampere’s goals forward from the perspective of climate and environment, as well as safety, well-being, equality, and economy. Sustainable transport, both for people and freight, is also space-efficient, which is an import aspect for a growing city like Tampere.

EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK recently launched a new slogan: #MixandMove. How does Tampere encourage multimodal approaches to transport? Why is this important?

Integrating different forms of mobility is crucial when we want to decrease emissions, shorter individual motorised trips and offer people more flexible access to mobility. Additionally, multimodality can also improve the cost-effectiveness of public transport especially in sparsely populated areas.

In Tampere, multimodality can take the form of city bikes, robos or e-scooters used to reach tram stops easily; a demand-based taxi brings someone to take a local train or a network of Park&Rides by truck line routes.

In addition to infrastructure and new services, mobility management is needed to change the mindset for new possibilities. Also, digital technologies and smart traffic management can play a significant role. Therefore, improving multimodality needs cooperation between the public sector and private providers.

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Find out what Tampere has in store for this year’s campaign and learn more about what your town or city is doing, here.

An interview with Kassel, winner of the European Mobility Week Award for larger municipalities

28 June 2022

EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK sat down with the 2021 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities winner – Kassel - to learn about the City’s upcoming plans for sustainable mobility development and to collect advice for towns and cities looking to follow in its footsteps.

Creating sustainable urban environments requires improving how people get from A to B, and everywhere in between. The German City of Kassel understands the importance of implementing key changes in local transport to encourage a culture of sustainable mobility. In close collaboration with the District of Kassel and the municipal public transport company NVV, the City’s comprehensive efforts, which include installing road safety signs near schools, the renovation of busy streets to better promote cycling infrastructure, and the organisation of creative awareness-raising activities for children and adults, helped it capture the 2021 EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities at an award ceremony in Brussels this spring. Kassel then repeated its success at the German EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Award ceremony, once again winning recognition for its sustainable mobility efforts.  

So what’s next for Kassel? How will the City continue to foster an inclusive sustainable mobility culture and develop measures that allow people to make more sustainable travel choices? EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK spoke with Christof Nolda, City Councilor and Head of the Department for Urban Development, Building, Environment and Transport, to learn more about what Kassel has in store.

What does winning the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award for larger municipalities mean for Kassel?

Winning the award meant recognition and tail wind for our approach. It confirmed that Cities, Districts and regional public transport companies can only benefit from joining forces. It assured us that we are on the right track in sensitising citizens on sustainable mobility. It obliged and encouraged us to continue on a path of transformation towards a more secure, joyful, liveable and sustainable region.

The sustainable mobility journey is one of constant adaptation and improvement. What exciting plans does Kassel have in store for the future?

We will build on the successes of last year and attempt to grow in depth and size, i.e. reaching out to even more citizens, cooperating with even more initiatives and becoming even more interactive. During the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK, our key focus is on removing (mental) barriers and showcasing alternatives for sustainable mobility. Beyond that, in the next years will see infrastructure developments geared towards the mobility needs of humans – instead of cars.

What advice would you give for cities looking to follow in your footsteps and win the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK award?

The more interactive and fun your approach, the better. We provided a number of low-threshold activities: Children proudly wore their self-painted high-visibility vests when walking to school. For people requiring a rollator, a dedicated "rollator training" lowered the barrier to use public transport. Meanwhile, a (cargo) bike trial day made mobility alternatives tangible. These activities were not expensive nor too complex to organise – even less so when you team-up with strong partners from administration, public transport and civil society.

Follow along to see what Kassel is planning for this year’s campaign and find out what your own town or city are doing for sustainable mobility, here.

REPowerEU plan underscores sustainable mobility choices to reduce fuel consumption

22 June 2022

In line with the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK calls on towns and cities to increase their efforts to implement mobility measures that reduce fuel consumption, while creating a more liveable urban environment for people.

Reducing fuel consumption to create more resilient and liveable cities has always been both a cornerstone of the European Commission’s policy approach to building a better future and a fundamental part of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s campaign to encourage a sustainable mobility culture. With the unwarranted Russian invasion of Ukraine, the need to reduce Europe’s dependency on oil has become even more urgent.

Encouraging a sustainable mobility culture to rapidly reduce fuel dependency

In response to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the EU launched the REPowerEU Plan to help accelerate Europe’s transition to a clean energy infrastructure. Thousands of towns, cities, organisations, schools, associations, and more, participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK are already helping to reduce fuel consumption by encouraging sustainable mobility choices and implementing fuel saving measures.

To continue supporting the reduction of fuel consumption, the REPowerEU plan and EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK are asking towns, cities and people to step up their efforts to implement sustainable mobility measures and to adopt an ‘avoid, shift, improve’ mind-set that will help drastically reduce the use of fuel.

Examples of sustainable urban mobility measures and choices that can easily be organised and replicated across Europe, include:

  • Lowering prices for public transport and rail;
  • Reducing speed zones;
  • Implementing car free zones;
  • Creating bike-sharing and micro-mobility schemes;
  • Incentivising employees to commute using public transport;
  • And more.

Car-Free Days & improved public transport: support EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK & REPowerEU

Two effective ways for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK participants to support this endeavour, and continue contributing actively to the campaign, are to 1) organise multiple Car-Free Days and 2) improve public transport by implementing relevant permanent measures. These actions will help avoid the use of private vehicles - which are directly correlated to increased fuel consumption - and encourage a shift to trams, metros, buses, bicycles, etc.

Car-Free Days could be organised on a weekly, monthly or ad-hoc basis and have great potential to radically reduce fuel consumption. Meanwhile, to promote a greater shift to public transport use, towns, cities and employers could introduce special offers, additional services or reduced fees.

Over the years, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has seen many creative activities that encourage the use of public transport including:

  • Offering after-work drinks at nearby bus stops;
  • Setting-up commuter challenges;
  • Arranging meetings between public transport operators and the public;
  • Carrying out surveys to better understand users’ satisfaction and expectations;
  • And more.

As towns and cities are registering their participation for the 2022 campaign, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK urges you to consider actions that will quickly reduce fuel consumption and help eliminate Europe’s dependence on Russian oil.

Slovenia’s National Coordinator leverages 10 years of experience to boost European Mobility Week participation

16 June 2022

After ten years of coordinating EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK in Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, reflects on the campaign’s impressive growth and the challenges encountered along the way.

Brussels - In May, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK officially launched its call for registrations from towns and cities for the 2022 campaign year, which will culminate in an exciting week of awareness-raising activities from 16 - 22 September.

As soon as registrations opened, Slovenia emerged as an enthusiastic frontrunner with 93 towns and cities already registered for the 2022 campaign - the most of any country so far. This is a major increase in comparison to the country’s first year of participation ten years ago, when the National Coordinator for Slovenia, Polona Demšar Mitrovič, recalls 20 municipalities participating. After working on the campaign for ten years in the Ministry of Infrastructure in Ljubljana, Slovenia, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK spoke with Polona about how she helped successfully grow the campaign in Slovenia, what challenges she faced and where the campaign is headed next.

Ten years is quite a long time, especially considering it is half of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK’s life span! The campaign celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year. What changes have you noticed since you began working on the campaign in Slovenia ten years ago?

Yes, in Slovenia there have been many changes. I can tell you that we started with around 20 to 30 municipalities participating at the beginning and now, in the last two years, we have had over 80 municipalities participating, which is really a big change. But what is even more important for us, than the number of cities participating, is the quality of measures that these cities are implementing. The towns and cities have really transformed their point of view from just promoting sustainable mobility to also creating possibilities for behavioural change. For example, cities and towns are working on permanent measures such as infrastructure for walking, cycling and better public transport. This is what actually allows people to change their travel habits, and this is very important.

That is an impressive increase - from 20 - 30 municipalities to 93 already this year. You mentioned that towns and cities have now moved beyond just proposing new ideas to actually creating opportunities for new sustainable mobility developments, such as permanent measures, to arise. What do you think encouraged this change?

Well, it's a long process. And after ten years of working with different stakeholders, giving them examples of good practice, the changes are already showing. What are the possibilities? Where are the problems? Why are these changes so important? People are more aware of the importance of sustainable mobility and when starting changes at the local level, even the political level is now more aware of sustainable mobility’s importance for its own citizens. So, it was a mixture of different processes: awareness-raising, knowledge-sharing, better living conditions, encouraging altogether healthier lifestyles for citizens, this is what people understand now, which they did not ten years ago.

So in Slovenia, you’ve witnessed people change their understanding of sustainable mobility and how it affects their lives. Have you noticed a similar engagement from young people? What are you doing to involve them in the campaign?

This year is the European Year of Youth and we have started to prepare for an event, because we didn't have such a good experience a few years ago. It was quite hard to get young people on board.

So this year, we connected with different youth organisations in Slovenia. We were discussing how to involve young people, what we should do, and we decided to cooperate with young people directly. So they will show us how to best approach them and what they’ve told us - and it's very important - is not just to listen to them, but to act afterwards; not just to involve them, but to show them that what they told us matters and that we will do this for them. This is what we want.

Indeed, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK strongly encourages the engagement of young people in all sustainable mobility related activities!

For more information about the European Year of Youth and how to connect better with this audience, visit our dedicated webpage here. To see which towns and cities have already registered for the 2022 campaign, visit our participating towns & cities page.

Donations needed for #BikesForUkraine campaign

12 May 2022

#BikesForUkraine is an international campaign providing bicycles for aid workers to deliver medication, food and humanitarian aid in Ukraine. Given the lack of fuel and the devastating impact of the Russian military aggression on transport infrastructure, the bicycle has become the most reliable transport mode for delivering urgent humanitarian aid and medical supplies. 

According to the United Nations, 6 million people have fled their homes in Ukraine to seek refuge in neighboring countries. Meanwhile, an estimated 6.5 million people are believed to be displaced within the country itself.

For those forced to flee to other countries, the European Union is offering key information in Ukrainian and Russian on how to best prepare and travel within the EU. However, for people that have chosen to remain in Ukraine to offer humanitarian aid to those who are unable to escape, a grass-roots campaign spearheaded by the Kyiv Cyclists’ Association (U-Cycle), Eco Misto (Chernihiv), Youth Association Extreme Style (Sumy), Urban Reform (Kharkiv) and FORZA (Uzhhorod) has emerged to increase the mobility of volunteers so that they able to reach those who need their help most.

#BikesforUkraine is an international campaign that calls on cycling community organisations, international and European institutions, and towns and cities for support. Among the many devastating consequences of the Russian invasion, Ukrainian mobility infrastructure and public transport have been damaged, making it almost impossible to travel within and between cities. As a result, the bicycle has surfaced as the main mode of transport and often is the only option for volunteers to deliver critical health and humanitarian services.

To ensure humanitarian aid is accessible in different Ukrainian cities, #BikesforUkraine is asking for help.

You can support by:

• Independently purchasing bicycles abroad or in Ukraine and transferring them to U-Cycle;
• Collecting and repairing used bicycles in your city and organising their transfer to Ukraine;
• If you are a cycling business – donating bicycles;
• Funding the purchase of bicycles in Ukraine via bank transfer or PayPal transfer to U-Cycle.

Bank transfer information:

Account number: UA403052990000026001006209584
Bank: CB PRIVATBANK Kiev
Bank code 305299
PayPal: nastia.makarenko7@gmail.com
Anastasiia Makarenko is an Executive Director of U-Cycle, Kyiv Cyclists’ Association.

Your donations will help purchase:
• 1 new bicycle – 250 euros
• 1 used bicycle – 100 euros
• 1/2 of a used bicycle – 50 euros
• 1/4 of a used bicycle – 25 euros
• Cable lock for a bicycle – 10 euros

By supporting #BikesforUkraine, you can help simplify logistics for vital humanitarian aid and support the Ukrainian economy. To help, fill in the form: https://forms.gle/66J2U5QBBo2ufRwf8

#BikesforUkraine also accepts requests for bicycles from organisations, youth centres and humanitarian hubs in Ukraine. Priority is given to cities and villages that are severely affected by hostilities and where public transport and infrastructure are inoperative. The initiative will also consider applications from cities accepting displaced persons. Apply for bikes here: https://forms.gle/M6Ago7zsCdhrHCDb9

Supporters of this initiative include the staff of the European Commission.