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FIRST BICYCLE LANE, CITY PICNIC AND CAR FREE DAY: HOW POLOTSK CELEBRATED THE EUROPEAN MOBILITY WEEK?

Project : FROM ENERGY EFFICIENCY TO URBAN MOBILITY
Published at : 2016-10-04

Polotsk welcomed the European Mobility Week for the second time. Like in the previous year, it took place on September 16-22. This year’s novelty was the opening of the first bicycle lane in the city, as well as the bike ride which connected Polotsk and Novopolotsk.

 

The European Mobility Week is an international festival devoted to ecological kinds of transport. Traditionally, it takes place on September 16-22. Polotsk joined the global initiative for "green" transport again, and as in 2015, the organizers were Polotsk District Executive Committee, Polotsk State University, Interakcia Foundation, Novopolotsk Association of Students-Architects. 

Much to the joy of the local cyclists , the first bicycle lane 7,5 metres long appeared in the city. The route was chosen by the citizens who were voting for 3 variants previously proposed by the Working group, which had also discussed the construction of the lane in correspondence with the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan.

  


Besides the launch of the first bicycle lane, many activities were prepared for Polotsk citizens. Mobility festival started with an open-air film screening (the film was devoted to a champion-cyclist), which was a success despite the chilly weather.

On the next day, at the official opening of the European Mobility Week and the bicycle lane  Sergei Leichenko, Deputy Chairman of Polotsk District Executive Committee, Sanaka Samarasinha, UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus and Ivan Shchadranok, director of Interakcia Foundation welcomed the citizens.


  

  

“It is very important that we created this holiday for the city with our own hands. The Working group has developed the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan, students from Novopolotsk association NASA created urban furniture, which you will be able to see today at the city picnic. Hopefully, such practice will have a future,  and the citizens of Polotsk will keep on organizing such significant and exciting events, — noted Ivan Shchadranok.



After the formal opening of the bicycle lane, the column of more than 250 cyclists started off for the bike ride, from Polotsk to Novopolotsk and back. That was followed by the city picnic which attracted citizens of all ages and surprised them with its eco-style. Specially for this event NASA, architectural student group from Novopolotsk constructed wooden urban furniture, and Zabombi.by art-group created a knitted bycicle. Visitors took part in free dance and fitness classes, children were jumping in the straw labyrinth and created flying chestnuts and house of carton. The organizers tried out a new format of open-air lectures and kept up the tradition of bike contests with prizes provided by Drive bike store, Manezh shopping mall , LikeBike bike rental service and Evropa Plus radio station.

  
  

Polotsk was cheerful and energetic on September 22, Car Free Day. 800 school students from Polotsk and 700 from Novopolotsk joined the international ZOOM.Kids on the Move campaign. Till mid-October 2-6-graders will do ecological tasks, collect “green footprints” and learn about impact of transport on the atmosphere and environment. At the end of this course their suggestions and ideas of what can be done for the planet’s ecology, as well as “green footprints” will travel to Climate Summit in Morocco.

Not only children but also parents went on bicycles to school. Besides, 2 schools and 1 enterprise got a bicycle rack as a prize as the most mobile ones. They were presented by Interakcia Foundation and UNDP Office in Belarus. School No6 hold a flashmob “The Choice is Yours” and info campaign with assistance of officials from State Automobile Inspectorate, and were telling pedestrians and automobile drivers about Car Free Day.  


  



Mimes from Vitebsk pantomime theatre created a festive mood in the city buses and at the bus stops, and one of the buses was decorated inside with “knitted graffiti”. Moreover, a alternative of a mobile phone appeared: with the help of the interactive game #Charadzei (#Чарадзей) passengers can amuse themselves during long routes.

  

Development of mobile environment was not limited the festival: just recently, in June 2016 joined the international CIVITAS network, which will make it possible to adopt urban mobility practices of other European cities, as well as develop new transport strategies. Such interaction has already begun: on September 27-30 the Working group with representatives of the Polotsk District Executive Committee, Polotsk State University, local cycling community and local media visited CIVITAS FORUM in Gdynia.

The European Mobility Week was organized thanks to the project “From Energy Efficiency to Urban Mobility”  by Polotsk District Executive Committee, Polotsk State University, Interakcia Foundation, Novopolotsk Association of Students-Architects with financial support of the European Union. The projects also implemented development of Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan: it will enable improvement of the transport system and services. The first bicycle lane appeared in Polotsk thanks to this document which has been already developed and will be implemented in the city during the next 5 years.

More details on the European Mobility Week 2016 >>