By Maryna Bludsha, Media Coordinator of the Kyiv Cyclists’ Association, for "UP:Life"
A bicycle in Ukrainian towns and villages is part of life and main means of transportation.
However, it is still aт extemporaneous phenomenon often caused by the absence of other transport alternatives. Cycling development there lacks certain conditions: cycle tracks, parkings and knowledge of the basic traffic rules by bicycle users. For the third consecutive year, small towns and villages of Ukraine have been amalgamating in AHs. The decentralisation process leads to an increase in local budgets. In the end, this will lead to improved roads and public transport and, most likely, less cycling trips. How to keep people on a bicycle and give them an opportunity to recognise its benefits for health, ecology and hromada economy?
The pilot project “Green Light for Cycling in Hromadas”, launched in 2018 by the NGO “Kyiv Cyclists’ Association” with the support of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme and local councils, tried to answer these challenges.
By the end of 2018, the State Road Scientific and Research Institute named after M.P. Shulhin should develop the State Cycling Standards.
However, the goal of the project “Green Light for Cycling in Hromadas” is still about positive changes in hromadas, namely to improve the attitude of AHs towards cycling as an cost-efficient, sustainable and attractive transport for daily travel. And it is not enough to create the necessary legislation, cycle tracks and bicycle parkings in schools. It is first of all necessary to change the attitude of people and their transport habits. Every year, more and more Ukrainian cities are joining the pan-European initiative to promote sustainable transportation.
14-year-old Yevhen, living in the town of Koryukivka, Chernihiv Oblast: “Every second or even every residents here owns a bicycle,” he says. “A bike is like a phone, it's part of my life. I often ride it to get to the neighbouring villages, shops and my school.” I'm riding along the road,” continues Yechen. “Sometimes cars are scary, so cycling tracks would be great.”
Yevhen and his classmates were the first participants in the safe cycling school, organised as part of the “Green Light for Cycling in Hromadas” project. The learnt material was practiced during field trips. To make the course more interesting, there was a promotional video shot featuring cowboys, who demonstrate the rules clearly on their bicycles.
This campaign takes place not only in Koryukivka. It is also part of the project “Green Light for Cycling in Hromadas”. In total, 5 hromadas from 5 different oblasts – the Koryukivska AH in the Chernihiv Oblast, Lokhvytska in the Poltava Oblast, Yakushynetska AH in the Vinnytsia Oblast, Korostyshivska AH in the Zhytomyr Oblast and the Bilozirska AH in the Cherkasy Oblast – participate in the campaign.
Cycling infrastructure and education not only increase road safety and protect human lives, but also promote economic development. Many hromadas want to develop tourism and create interesting cycling routes to attract guests. The presence of cycling tracks encourages local population to use bicycles. And it positively affects public health and saves expenses for its protection. “Even small projects are able to unite people. When people get together to implement their own idea, they thus control and improve their lives,” said Mykola Liakhovych, acapacity development adviser of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme.
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