On the occasion of June 3rd, World Bicycle Day, associations from the countries of the Western Balkans that advocate the improvement of bicycle traffic in an open letter draw attention to the future of urban mobility in our cities. The letter is a regional initiative of several associations in the Western Balkans and is aimed at all national and international institutions and organizations.
The current crisis caused by the Covid-19 epidemic and the recommendations for limiting physical contacts have significantly changed the way citizens move. As private car traffic declined sharply and public transport in the region was temporarily suspended, more and more people opted for cycling and walking.
Traffic experts from all over the world believe that a new redistribution of space on city roads is urgently needed, based on the reciprocity of traffic participants. Metropolises of countries such as Germany, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Spain, and Hungary have recognized this problem and implemented temporary solutions.
The solutions are simple, creative and their implementation is not the time or financially demanding, and they imply more space and better conditions for the movement of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as all other users of micro-mobility. Berlin and Budapest have been turning sections of roads into bicycle lanes for weeks. Vienna has expanded its calm traffic zones into residential areas. Brussels has introduced a speed limit of 20km/h throughout the city center and given an absolute advantage to pedestrians, and Milan is announcing the expansion of pedestrian and bicycle space to as many as 35km of paths and lanes in the coming months.
Western Balkan associations dealing with the development of urban mobility and popularization of bicycle traffic invite the governments of the Western Balkans, representatives of international organizations and institutions, the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community of the Western Balkans, EU delegations, cities and municipalities, and other actors involved in traffic development:
- to initiate, as soon as possible, activities aimed at planning and implementation of measures for the improvement of bicycle traffic;
- to create a framework for approaching multidisciplinary planning of measures and activities for the popularization of bicycle traffic;
- to advocate greater public participation in decision-making processes on spatial planning and strategic documentation;
- to transpose initiatives launched at the level of the European Union in the field of urban mobility to the Western Balkans;
- to commit cities, municipalities and cantons to permanently work on the improvement of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and to promote cycling traffic;
- to change an opinion for bicycles and bicycle traffic as a hindrance or activity in moments of leisure, to one where it is an equal mode of transport with other forms, which will play a major role in the near future life improvements in cities.
We, the undersigned associations, call on the above mentioned institutions to react as soon as possible, not only during the pandemic, but also in the future. We are available to exchange information, ideas and suggestions on how to improve bicycle traffic in cities, reduce the risk of the virus spreading, reduce air pollution and have a positive impact on human health and the economy.
You’re on the move!
In April 2018, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared June 3rd World Bicycle Day. The resolution for World Bicycle Day recognizes “the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the Bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport.”
The open letter is signed by associations and initiatives:
- Na tochak (Skopje, North Macedonia)
- Novi Sad Cycling Initiative (Novi Sad, Serbia)
- Vozi ulice (Sabac, Serbia)
- Streets for cyclists (Belgrade, Serbia)
- Giro di Sarajevo (Sarajevo, BiH)
- Biciklo.me (Podgorica, Montenegro)
- Center for the Environment (Banja Luka, BiH)
- GO2 (Skhoder, Albania)