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Interview with Ms Andrea Štulajterová, National Coordinator for Slovakia

17 October 2018

Slovakia has had a record breaking year, with more towns and cities participating in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK than ever before. What do you attribute this increase in participation to?

The Slovak Environmental Agency has been promoting EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK on a national level since 2014. From that starting point, the public has become more and more aware of the campaign, with many municipalities now taking part in it annually. The growth in participation has also been helped by the fact that the Minister of Environment holds a national competition for the involved municipalities. This is a strong motivator for participation.

New campaign partners have also made a significant contribution to popularising the campaign, increasing the number of registered municipalities. The National Railway company and the Bus Union provided significant travel discounts throughout EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK. People could also bring bicycles on the train for free during the week as part of the railway company’s efforts to get the public to "Mix and move!".

What challenges do you face in Slovakia in terms of getting cities to take part in EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK?

We have major shortcomings in Slovakia in terms of addressing sustainable mobility. Local governments do not usually have a mobility department in the office's governance structure. They generally have a transport department, whose priority is to deal with motorised transport. We need to change this! The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign is very helpful in this regard, as if a city is interested in signing up for the campaign they have to identify the responsible person in the office who will coordinate the campaign at the local level. After some years it seems that these coordinators gradually become mobility managers at the offices (though not in all of them of course).

The next year will see some challenges, as the local elections could result in local coordinators being replaced. We hope that successful initiatives and activities will remain in place and that cities will continue their journey towards sustainability.

What do you think the future will be for EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK in the Slovak Republic?

I am convinced that the number of municipalities and organisations participating will grow as interest in the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign continues to increase. More and more companies are organising events for their employees to promote sustainable forms of commuting, and municipalities are starting to understand the benefits that the campaign brings in terms of improving the quality of life of their citizens.

Thanks to quality promotion, the campaign has been brought to the attention of the general public. Interestingly, I now feel that people are putting pressure on the municipality to ensure that the city is developed in a sustainable way. Citizens are demanding better infrastructure for cyclists and better public transport. Many larger employers have introduced green policies in their companies - now municipalities will have to meet the demands of the public and systematically address the issue of sustainable mobility.

The last strong factor is that individual motor transport is growing in cities and causing major problems with parking and traffic congestion, and it is municipalities that are forced to solve these problems. We, as national coordinators, can help the muncipalities to plan events for the campaign and to implement permanent measures, through providing methodological guidelines and examples of good practice. I've found that the events and permanent measures that are being organised seem to grow in quality each year!