New Cycling Initiatives in Ukraine

The city of Lviv in western Ukraine started the first stages of building new cycling routes for the city’s bicycle commuters. The Executive Committee of the City of Lviv approved a 9-year implementation plan for the city’s new cycling infrastructure. The approved plan includes a 270 kilometers (168 miles) of cycling infrastructure to be completed by 2019.

Lviv’s new bicycling infrastructure is part of the city’s active promotion of 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.

In order to initiate construction of new infrastructure, the city council allocated 1 million Ukrainian Hryvnias (US$125,000) to the project, however, the city is still pursuing additional internal and external funds.

The construction of cycling infrastructure is progressing simultaneously at multiple sites; however, the five proposed sites do not yet form a continuous cycling network. Each cycle path follows its own style depending on the road conditions and traffic density. Some cycling paths are designed as bi-directional roads whereas others mix one-directional bicycle traffic with pedestrian space. The width of the paths also varies from 1.5 meters to 3 meters wide. The one unique future for all of the cycle paths is the red color designating it as separate traffic from private vehicles.

According to Oleh Shmid, the mayor’s advisor on cycling development—the first such position in Ukraine—the largest obstacle to promoting bicycle culture in Lviv is influencing behavior.

Explains Shmid:

“The main and the biggest barrier of cycling development is the stereotypes concerning cycling. The technical obstacles are, of course, connected with the peculiarities of historical heritage in Lviv. The global experience, though, shows that this hurdle is not insurmountable. The future problem may be the excess of prudence of Lviv citizens, who will use cycling paths somewhat reluctantly. This may give officials the purpose to close projects connected with cycling, since there is no demand of society for them. That is why, I ask people to get on their bikes and push the cars out of roads.”

Shmid also explains that the city’s newfound efforts to proliferate cycling comes from the overwhelming amount of private vehicle traffic. “A modern city is difficult to imagine without a complex system,” Shmid says. “We can see cars everywhere and they have occupied a great part of public space. The city has no technical possibilities to handle such a great amount of vehicles anymore. It is necessary to choose either to develop Lviv for people or to make it comfortable for cars.”

Shmid also adds that cycling is the best transport solution for the city, especially since it is only 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) wide at its broadest point.

As for advice to other cities taking on similar projects, Shmid says that being systematic is key. “Cycling infrastructure has to be integrated into the city transport network,” he says. “This should be taken into account in the early stages of any city development projects.”

But according to Shmid, no cycling infrastructure can be successful without public participation. “The best input of any Lviv citizen for cycling development is to start using bicycles,” he says.

To learn more about Lviv’s cycling initiatives, click here.

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