Safely On a Bike Through Brno
In spring 2006 a group of people, who did not propose to reconcile with the dreary situation for a Brno cyclist, was spontaneously made out of the Brno local group Hnutí DUHA. Although the cycling transport is one of the most effective ways of the personal transport in a city, only a small percentage of people make use of it. Why? The undeveloped network of cycle tracks and cycle lanes that would conect individual city quarters with the city center, as well as the absence of safe parking spots for bicycles is to blame. We set up these two areas as our goal: to enforce the construction of the new cycle tracks that will enable to travel safely from one city quarter to another and to make sure that the cyclists can park safely.
Cyclist’s right petition
Firstly it was necessary to show to the city representatives that people are interested in cycling in Brno. We had to rebut the opinion of the local authority that only an insignificant amount of people uses or would like to use bicycles in the city. This argument was used many times to put off the requests of the contruction and the development of the cycle tracks in Brno. This situation itself suggested to arrange a petition. The most massive wave of collecting the signatures took place from July to September 2006. Our volunteers stood with the information stands at the places with frequent cycling and offered the possibility to join the petition to cyclists and passers-by every weekend. They also provided information about the starting campaign. The interest was huge – not only from the citizens but also from the media. We managed to collect more than 8500 signatures during less than three months – enough to have a strong position during the meetings with the Municipal Government of Brno.
More cycle tracks for Brno
One of the main pillar of the campaign “Safely On a Bike Through Brno” is the advocacy of the new cycle tracks and lanes construction. We especially strive to realize the conection of the individual quarters with the Brno city center. It is necessary to secure the suitable conditions if the amount of people using bikes should be increased. Several possibilities, relatively cheap and simple, to safely reserve a place to the cyclists exist. We enforce:
- To consider a possibility of making a cycle track during any street reconstruction to avoid a situation when the reconstruction is made without building a cycle track and the possibility of safe crossing by the cyclists is then closed for several years or decades.
- To open up certain one-way streets for the cyclists also in the other direction.
- At the places where it is possible (less frequent, side streets) to enable the cyclists to enter the street with the traffic sign “No entry”.
- Cycle tracks marking on the less used sidewalks and the service roads where it is often possible without any complicated technical adjustements.
The second but not less important goal of the campaign is to secure a safe parking for the cyclists in Brno. Nowadays there is only one bicycle depository in Brno and it is not better with the bicycle stands either. The insufficiant amount of safe parking places for the bicycles represents one of the circumstances blocking the development of the city cycling. When the necessary monitoring is done we will predict some places where the stands/depositories should be made and subsequently start to negotiate with the individual institutions. We plan to edit a practical manual for these purposes, it will summarize the experience of the Czech and Moravian towns with the developed network of parking places for the bicycles, basic (technical) data needed to place a stand or to establish a depository and a whole range of other practical advices and guides.
Bikes have future
Besides the advocacy of the practical steps leading to the improvement of the cycling conditions it is important to promote cycling itself – as an ecological, saving, healthy and fast means of transport. That is why we organize traditional cyclings connected with rich cultural and entertaining programs for the occasion of the Day of the Earth (April) and the Day without Cars (September). We started to provide also the web side with the same aim. You can find not only practical information, information about actual actions but you can also join the discussions about the cycling transport in Brno which helps to create the whole campaign.
We are not alone
Many civil initiatives strive for better and more secure cycling in the cities. Hnutí DUHA Brno cooperates with the Prague group AUTO*MAT (informal community of the citizens, artists, organizations) that has been fighting for the improvement of the pedestrian and cyclist conditions for several years. Especially their cycling or actions “The angels in the Streets” are very popular.
We have an inspiration also behind the border in Hungarian institution Critical Mass promoting the improvement of the cycling transport in Budapest. During the traditional Day without Cars in autumn 2005 thirty thousand cyclists took part and also the local minister of transport visited the event.
Share your experience with the cycling transport in the cities. We appreciate any of your interesting remarks, suggestions, experience or photos.