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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!

Increased participation leads to new EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK record

12 October 2018

EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has hit a new participation record, with almost 2,800 towns and cities from 54 countries taking part in 2018. A full list of participants can be viewed online.

This impressive figure marks the third record-breaking year in a row for the campaign. The geographic reach of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK has also expanded, with towns and cities from 54 countries participating, including several from outside of Europe.

Car-free day, in which towns and cities close one or more streets to traffic, was carried out by 1,145 participants, while 1,276 towns and cities declared that they had implemented at least one permanent measure. Overall, 8,839 permanent measures were implemented by participating cities in 2018.

Car-free day often leads to a marked increase in air quality in the area in which it is implemented and is the perfect opportunity for local authorities to measure the impact of motorized vehicles on the air we breathe. A recent study on Brussels’ car-free day found that black carbon decreased by 80 percent during the period in which cars were off the roads.

Media coverage of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK was extensive, with over 8,000 news items produced about the campaign, reaching more than 200 million people.

Towns and cities that carried out all three of the participation criteria (carry out a week of activities celebrating clean forms of mobility, implement at least one permanent measure that encourages sustainable transport, and hold a car-free day) are eligible to apply for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Awards. 

The EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK Awards are given out in two categories: one for municipalities larger than 50,000 inhabitants, and one for smaller municipalities under this threshold. The deadline for applying is 23 October 2018.

Moldova makes EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK debut

8 October 2018

This year has been another hugely successful one for the EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK campaign. Record participation has been seen in a slew of countries, others have seen registrations reach levels not seen for a long, long time. There have also been a host of new countries involved for the first time, among them the little state of Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.

A call, issued by the country’s State Ecological Inspectorate, a body subordinate to the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, in September, served as the source of inspiration for its local inspectorates, galvanising Moldovan towns and cities into action. It’s not an uncommon practice to see such missives being sent, Russia, Turkey and others doing the same in 2018.

Its principal goal was to encourage communities to capitalize on the week as a means to address "the alarming situation created by the intense pollution of air in urban centers through car use.” Although the central theme of this year’s ‘Week’ was #MixAndMove in line with the European Commission’s ‘year of multi-modality,’ Moldova rallied its towns to respect the mantra: “Clean Air for All.”

Campaign activities were subsequently reported on the inspectorate’s message board in eight principal locations. For example, in Ungheni, at the border with Romania, a cycle race entitled "Give up the car, take the bicycle!" took place, while in nearby Călăraşi, ecological classes were hosted by a brace of educational institutions while working groups discussed local air protection measures. In Lipoveni, south of the capital, Chisinau, as in Criuleni to the east, besides cycling contests, locals were encouraged to become ‘the fastest athlete,’ and to sign up for a drawing competition. Participants were then rewarded with diplomas and gifts. Somewhat unusually named Edinet, to the north, hosted its Car-Free Day on 22 September, with the central square witnessing celebrations dedicated to the promotion of environmental protection that brought together a series of fun events including "The best skateboard sportsman." And in a unique move, only seen otherwise in Germany, the city linked up with neighbouring Chernivtsi in Ukraine, which served as the final stop in a cycle tour that included a visit to Briceni on September 17. There, hundreds of citizens turned out to spur on cyclists demonstrating a healthy lifestyle that also contributes to environmental protection. Their passage was well received by locals, who came up with questions and suggestions, while some even got on the bike and joined in.

Local media was quick to pick up on similar events in Soroca, where Observatorul de Nord published an article on the importance of EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK actions on "Motorized Traffic: Problems and Alternatives." In Lipoveni, Gazeta de Sud and ProMedia too reported on local events. In the southern town of Gagauzia, local TV and radio station interviews also garnered prime time space.

It may be regarded as slightly disappointing that Moldova’s larger cities did not get involved. However, according to Ina Coseru, who heads up Moldova’s National Environmental Center, “in our small country with its limited resources, cooperation is key. For example, we are emboldened by the fact that the road-safety focused Automobile Club Moldova is keen to lend its support to the campaign. We also must link up with the GEF-financed Green Cities project that launched this year and includes a greener transport component for Chisinau. It will continue next year, so we definitely need to involve all the relevant authorities at local level and ask the project to support their initiatives.”

Fortunately, the state inspectorate will invite all participants to report back and the European Secretariat looks forward to hearing of further activities, hopefully in Moldova’s larger cities too.

Beyond Moldova, EUROPEANMOBILITYWEEK ‘debuts’ were also seen from Georgia to Peru, and from Mongolia to South Africa. All in all, some 54 countries got involved, which just goes to show the campaign’s reach in its seventeenth year. Roll on 2019!