Cycling on the Rise: Public Bicycles and other European Experiences
"When the Spicycles project was launched in 2006, cycling was not the “hot” mode of transport that it has become today. As project partners, we wanted to gather experience related to specific areas of cycling policy. We were keen to explore how key elements such as communication and awareness raising, and the building of local partnerships, might increase the modal share of cycling. We had big expectations at the beginning of the project regarding cycling planning, but could not have predicted the explosion in the popularity of public bicycle systems that has taken place during Spicycles. In the course of the project, cycling became increasingly relevant to city policy makers and transport planners, as well as to citizens. This interest was heightened by the looming economic crisis: petrol prices rose dramatically, and economic recession became a reality. Public discussion of issues such as those raised in Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” began to change people’s way of thinking, and from being regarded as “old-fashioned”, cycling was increasingly perceived as a relevant and contemporary mode of transport. As the project comes to an end we can conclude that huge strides have been made. All the partner cities have improved their cycling policy. All of them now have a public bicycle system, even though Barcelona and Bucharest had not even planned for these at the start of the project. Berlin has enthused us all with its leadership in cycling planning. Bucharest and Ploiesti have been inspirational — their approach to local partnerships and to communication and awareness-raising programmes has provided a model for cities of a similar size and background, and their experiences are reflected in the brochure “Cycling in Eastern European Cities”, which was produced in Polish, Hungarian, Romanian and Czech. Rome showed us that determination leads to results, even in the most complicated circumstances, and Göteborg has been a trailblazer in many areas, with its excellent communication projects, bicycle highways and advanced bike-counting systems. Spicycles’s results can be seen in the reports and newsletters on the website <spicycles.velo.info>, which also features an innovative interactive map for cycling planning, a benchmarking tool and a pool of consultants. In the future, it is planned to integrate the results with the new EC CIVITAS Plus project, MIMOSA, as well as with “Amsterdam Cycling to Sustainability”, which is planning a data centre annex database on urban transportation and mobility."