How to make more Slovenians bike?

Cycling Festival Europe opened

Better for the environment, better for the health, better for the city. The bike is the best means of transport for the city and the Cycling Festival Europe, initiated by the Netherlands, has eleven weeks to convince more Slovenians to step on the bike.

With a firm handshake Dutch ambassador Bart Twaalfhoven and Ljubljana mayor Zoran Jankovic officially opened the Cycling Festival Europe on Thursday 14 April in the Slovenian capital. In the framework of the Cycling Festival Europe a series of bicycle events will be held in Ljubljana, the European Green Capital 2016.R0027293

Also in 27 other European capitals the Cycling Festival Europe started on Thursday. All Dutch embassies in Europe are organizers and promoters of various cycling events till the end of June. In Ljubljana, new as well as existing, bike events are connected with each other to promote the use of bicycles.

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The ambassador and embassy personnel pose with Cycling Festival Europe ambassadors Filip Flisar (world-champion skicross and BMX-rider), Jure Žabjek (European champion mountainbike downhill), Tanja Žakelj (best Slovenian mountainbike racer), Anka Vesel and Primož Jeralič, (Slovenian paracyclists of  2015) and David Kuster (participant in three Paralympics).

Rain is pouring down and there is thunder in the sky above Ljubljana. It aren’t the best of circumstances to open a bicycle event. Before Cycling Festival Europe is opened the program has to be adapted. A scheduled bikeride from the embassy in Ljubljana to elementary school Prežihov Voranc is cancelled. The first action of Cycling Festival Europe Ljubljana will be the award ceremony of the Safe on the Bike project in the school. But before it all starts we wait. We wait for other people to arrive. They were on time, but then needed extra time to find a parking place for their cars. Ambassador Bart Twaalfhoven: ,,This is the best example of why we should use bikes in the city.”

 

Safe on the Bike

Safe on the Bike (Varno na kolesu) is a project of the company Butan Plin which teaches children to ride their bike safely and promotes the use of bicycles. Not only the importance of helmets, good working bicycles, bike-lights and traffic rules are addressed but also infrastructure. Children asses the road safety in their own area and come up with solutions to make it safer. In this schoolyear 2500 children of 86 schools from all over Slovenia participate in Safe on the Bike.

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The Safe on the Bike campaign is very important. But what does really count for a young Slovenian? An autograph of skiing hero Filip Flisar, of course!

 

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The rain stopped just in time for the start of the Bike to Work campaign and cycling market where cycling clubs and associations presented themselves.

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For the third year in a row the Dutch embassy signed up for the Bring Happiness to Work campaign of the Urban Planning Institute. By signing a contract ambassador Bart Twaalfhoven committed himself and his staff to bike to work as often as possible. Within the Bring Happiness to Work campaign is also a contest in which companies compete with making the most bike trips to work. Also deputy mayor Janez Kožel, already an avid bike commuter, signed up.
Besides being healthy, cycling to work is said to make you happy. If that is also the case on rainy mornings like these, remains to be seen.

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Free museum ticket for cyclists

Part of the Cycling Festival Europe is also the #cycle2heritage initiave of the cycling club Rog, Museums Ljubljana and the Dutch embassy. Everyone who comes to one of the museums in Ljubljana by bike get’s two single or family entry tickets for the price of one until 30 June. To qualify for a free ticket you have to take a selfie of yourself on the bike in front of the Ljubljana City Museum and use the hashtags #mgmlj #CFE2016 #myfranja #cycle2heritage #ljzate.

Discovering Ljubljana by bike

Cycling is not only a means of transport to work or to school. It is fun too. You can now discover Ljubljana through four thematic cycling routes. Ambassador Twaalfhoven and deputy mayor Koželj opened Plečnik’s Path, a bike route past the many works of architect Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana. And they led the way for a group of around 40 cyclists who rode half of the new route. ,,What a fantastic way to discover the city”, said ambassador Twaalfhoven.

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Kolsarji pred avtomobili: bicyclists before cars. That is exactly what the festival is about.

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