We have all heard about the supersized bike-share systems in Western Europe, cycling superhighways in Scandinavia, and awesome bicycle friendly cities in the Netherlands and Denmark. But how is the situation in Eastern Europe? Once looked down on as “poor man’s transport”, bicycling is gaining popularity and becoming the trendy new choice for the millennials
– generation Y – of Eastern Europe. We give you a small eye-opener to some of the greatest upcoming bicycle cities in Eastern Europe.
No.6 Tartu, Estonia
The relatively small city of close to 100,000 inhabitants in south Estonia has the makings of a great bicycle city. It is a compact city which makes it a perfect place for advocating healthy and environment-friendly means of transport. Besides, Tartu is a University city – with one fifth of the population being students who literally love cycling. Tartu is also a partner in the Estonian-Latvian joint project Tour de LatEst, the project contains over 1000-kilometre bicycle route through Latvia and Estonia, where Tartu is one of the stopovers on this route. The city has a vibrant cycling community with a popular critical mass. If you accidentally pop-in the occasionally held “Tour d’ÖÖ ” during your stay in Tartu don’t hesitate to join!
No.5 Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest has experienced a true bike renaissance over the last years, cycling has become trendy with fashionable bars like Origoand Bicicleta featuring bicycles as design objects, while bike shops, collective bicycle rides on weekly basis and bicycle-related blogs have popped up. Bike sharing schemes have blossomed, such as I’Velo with 750,000 registered rentals in less than three years. And even the famous Romanian cycling brand, Pegas, which collapsed after the fall of Communism has been resurrected by young entrepreneurs. The bike renaissance in Bucharest is defined by “Stylish cycling”. Skirtbike is one of the many great initiatives, the annual parade of thousands of women who promote stylish cycling surely gives a complete new streetview to the city.
No. 4 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Host to the conference “Cycling in Central and Eastern Europe” in Oktober 2013, sets Ljubljana on the urban cycling map. Ljubljana, has made significant investments in cycling in the last few years with noticeable results. Inhabitants and visitors to Ljubljana can ride around the capital using the self-service rent-a-bike system Bicikelj. 300 bicycles are available 24/7 all year round at 31 stations in the wider city centre area. Using a bicycle will allow you to experience the pulse of Ljubljana and enjoy the many activities the city offers. Bicycling is “Trendy” especially among the thousands of students coming to this university city each year. Plenty of bicycle traffic lights, new cycle paths, pre-green for bicycles at intersections makes this city lightyears ahead compared to other East European capitals.
No. 3 Lviv, Ukraine
Opposite from the cycling facilities in the capital Kiev, the west Ukranian city Lviv, with over 700,000 inhabitants has an active government in the promotion of a bicycle culture. Working with local non-governmental organizations, bicycle dealers and cycle-friendly partners, the city is pursuing a sustainable mobility agenda and cooperating with other cycling cities worldwide.Interesting fact in Lviv is that the bicycle project is not pushed by the society. According to the Mayor’s advisor for cycling infrastructure Oleh Shmid: “the largest obstacle to promoting bicycle culture in Lviv is influencing behavior. Since there is no demand from the society for bicycling yet, I ask people to get on their bikes and push the cars out of roads.” The decision seems to be made on the large increase of cars within the city, which leaves the government two options: to develop Lviv for people or to make it comfortable for cars! The Female part of the society seems to get the signs first, with the ““Girls bicycle parade” in summer 2013 they showed that – For People it is!
No 2. Gdańsk, Poland
Gdańsk is well known for having one of the most vibrant cycling communities in Poland, and is named by some `The Cycling capital of Poland`. The city in northern Poland at the Baltic Sea coast is inhabited by 465,000 souls. It’s a Hanseatic city with Polish, German and Dutch roots. And maybe that last “Dutch” root has given this city the inspiration for the great bicycle infrastructure they have nowaydays. Gdańsk was the first city in Poland with its own bicycle infrastructure design standards, which resulted in for example a unique new traffic sign warning motorists for leaving space for cyclists on the road. With over 100 cycling traffic lights, a bicycle sharing system, almost 4000 bike parking places, plenty of bicycle lanes and a positive atmosphere around cycling Gdańsk deserves a well earned 2th place in our list.
No.1 Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a regional leader in bicycle culture and growing bicycle infrastructure. The city was awarded a 13th place in the popular Copenhaganize index in 2013, for it’s fast development and growing bicycle culture. The Hungarian cycle Chic is a good example of this growing culture, with over 15,000 Facebook followers they promote a stylish ride for everyone! Budapest’s latest critical mass ride in April 2013 was the largest cycling demonstration in the world, with an estimated 100,000 attendees. Critical Mass’ grassroots movement, which started in 2004, has led to a true bicycling boom in the Hungarian capital. The number of cyclists nearly doubled in 2012 from the previous year, according to a survey by the Hungarian Cyclists’ Club.The latest development of implementing a Bicycle sharing system with over 1,000 bikes in 75 platforms, covering a 15 square kilometer area within the city center, makes the city a true game-changer. The system will become operational in April 2014. Budapest citizens andtourists are facing to a bright future with plenty of ”pedal power” possibilities.
After reviewing these amazing bicycle friendly cities in East Europe It’s pretty clear that:
For the newest “pedal” experiences in 2014 – Head East!