Biking Beyond Borders (Goes East!) print this page

biking beyond borders!
Youth exchange project in Batumi, Georgia

-Report BBB Goes East youth exchange project in Georgia, July 2006

-Pictures BBB 2004 & BBB 2006 projects
-Sustainable Mobility Guide and personal delivery by bicycle (spring/summer 2006)
-Newspaper article about BBB 2006 (in Dutch)

-Report BBB Seminar in Netherlands, November 2004
-Links to participating organizations and related links
-Description of our cycling youth exchange project with Poland in 1999 (Word document)

Some facts...

-"The year 2005 was named as "Year of Disasters" by the World Meteorological Organisation. Never before, national, regional and local levels were so aware of climate change and that they will have to act, each level according to its means. Scientists now dare for the first time to affirm that what we are observing now is definitely due to mankind’s activities ...
Local governments are aware about the impacts of their transport policy on local air quality, noise, quality of life, etc., but in many cases they are not about their contributions to climate change.
Although it is much easier to estimate the effects: Every single kilometre not driven with a car reduces CO2 emissions by 145 g, every car that was not produced reduces energy consumption by 50,000 kWh, walking and cycling as zero-carbon modes,..." (Official European website for the European Mobility Week )

-"Traffic accidents kill over 45.000 people in Europe every year. Traffic accidents are the first cause of death for young people aged from 1 to 25 in European Union countries. The number of people killed on the roads in cities is in direct relation to the number of journeys by car. In cities where public transport is well developed, the number of people killed by cars is divided by two compared to cities without an efficient public transport system." (UITP)

For years we have been organizing youth projects on the isues sustainable transport / cycling, starting in Netherlands and Poland in 1999 and now we are heading more eastwards, to Georgia. Biking Beyond Borders Goes East!

Biking Beyond Borders Goes East! - Youth exchange in Georgia, 2-10 July 2006

What have we actually done?
The young participants and youth leaders from Estonia, Hungary, Netherlands, Moldova, Armenia and Georgia have worked together in intercultural games, discussions, workshops, presentations and public actions and made some small bike-tours in Georgia.
There have been presentations about cycling in Groningen (Netherlands), Budapest (Hungary) and Talinn (Estonia) and about the European Mobility Week (an initiative of the European Commission).
A Hungarian participant has done a presentation about his biketour to Batumi, the Sustainable Mobility Guide for Municipalities, and reported about his meetings with local authorities in Bulgaria and Turkey.
Every country has presented their culture during one evening with music, drinks and dances. During the biketrips, excursions and in their free time the participants got the opportunity to exchange ideas on more personal level. Two members of the Tbilisi Cyclists League attended the whole project and were actively involved in the activities.
During these activities all got better acquainted with each others living environment, cultures, history and wishes and dreams for the future.

announcement poster in Batumi
announcement of our street action in Batumi

Active citizenship
The (relatively) in-experienced participants have learned from the more experienced participants about active citizenship. They exchanged experiences about the activities they have done in their own cities regarding developing a more healthy living environment and sustainable transport. The presentation and video from Budapest showed a very recent, very fast development of cycling initiated by just a few people, and this amazed many participants and made them realize that the unexpected is possible! We have seen also images of Bulgaria where car-free city-centres are being developed and heared about enthusiastic NGOs in Bulgaria and Turkey (who helped to translate the Sustainable Mobility Guide in their own language.)
During the preparations for the street actions the participants learned how to develop their own ideas and wishes into concrete messages to the public (and politicians) in Georgia.

be cool!
Be cool, fast and healthy! Use a bike!

Cycling promotion
Cycling has been promoted as a cool, clean, fast and healthy way of transport for Georgian citizens during the exchange project via street actions in Tbilisi and Batumi and in Georgian media.
The street action in Batumi (a town at the Black Sea cost) was on and around the boulevard, where we were handing out leaflets, speaking with people, and drawing bicycles on the pavement together with children. We distributed some posters in the town before the action, and we were all wearing T-shirts with images and slogans of our project. Most reactions were very positive. Some people wanted to know where they could take bicycle lessons!
During our cycling in and around Batumi we noticed that it would be very well possible to develop cycling in Batumi because the city is not that big, and the streets are flat. Unfortunately we didn't manage to speak with Batumi media and authorities, because at that same day some important politician visited the town and they said they were occupied with this completely. So we cycled ourselves to the city hall, just to show ourselves and make a statement, and were on the way almost run over by this politician and his police escort. We stood there for a while, made a lot of noise and gave leaflets to the passers-by.

cycling in Batumi
Cycling in Batumi

In Tbilisi we cooperated with students from CYEN (Caucasus Youth Environmental Network) and our street action was a part of their ”Footprints festival”. Apart from our participants, there were more cyclists from the Tbilisi Cycling League, students from CYEN, a group of percussionists and Jumber Lezhava, the famous Georgian World Traveller by bicycle. After a meeting in front of the City hall with all participants, press and the Dutch ambassador, we went all together with police escort to Republic Square, with live music, whistles, and a Georgian student explaining our action in a megaphone on the way. At Republic Square a concert followed and more interviews were taken by Georgian media. The festival and the action were covered three times on national TV (Channel 1 and Imedi), one time on Saturday (as announcement) and two times on Monday (a report).

Future cooperation

There are some plans for follow-up, like:
-organizing a similar youth exhange project in Moldova to promote cycling there;
-a training for Georgian cyclists at a Bike Messengers company in Budapest (the cycling popularity started in Budapest with bike-messengers, one of them was participating in this project);
-cooperation for the World Carfree Day and European Mobility Week;
-participating in the annual World Carfree Cities Conference, next year taking place in Istanbul;
-translating, distributing and promoting the Sustainable Mobility Guide for Municipalities more intensively and in more countries

See some more pictures here

The project is financed with support of the European Community and the Royal Netherlands
Embassy in Tbilisi. The bicycle accessories were partly sponsored by Refide Bicycle shop in Groningen.

Download Press release 27 June 2006 (in English)
Download Press Release in Georgian (PDF)

Sustainable Mobility Guide and personal delivery by bicycle

ZOFI logoThe Hungarian Young Greens (ZOFI), partner in the BBB Goes East project, has published a sustainable mobility guide for municipal officials, urban planners and interested citizens and NGOs.

The Sustainable Mobility Guide: an attractive packet of information, articles, suggestions and statistics, designed to paint a picture of sustainable and beautiful urban landscape, complete with positive sustainable transportation developments, carfree areas, bike-friendly and green improvements. The aim of the Guide is to catch the attention of city officials, urban planners, and interested citizens.
The guide is divided up along several topics, including environmental impact of widespread private car use, healthy cities infrastructure, pedestrian areas, public areas, green areas, traffic evaporation, traffic calming measures, sustainable urban transport strategies. Many examples and best practices from around the world are given.Sustainable Mobility Guide

While much has been written about sustainable transportation, this Guide attempts to include a broad range of information, gained from a wide survey of this field, in such a way that a comprehensive set of recommendations is made, in a design and format that is easily absorbed by the reader, and contains ample documentation, statistics and further reading. This guide will initially be distributed in local language versions in South-East Europe, Turkey and the Caucasus.

Download the Sustainable Mobility Guide in PDF here in English, Turkish, Bulgarian or Hungarian. Edited by Justin Hyatt.

Delivery by Bicycle with the mayor of Istanbul

One of the best ways to get the Guide into the right hands is by delivering it in person. One of the participants of BBB and member of ZOFI, Justin Hyatt, is currently undertaking a bike ride between Budapest, Hungary, and Batumi, Georgia, the location where "Biking Beyond Borders goes East", took place. On the way to Batumi and now back to Hungary, he is meeting with both municipal and NGO representatives, handing out copies of the Guide, engaging in dialogue with local citizens and making public presentations.

On the picture on the right you can see Justin together with the mayor of Istanbul (with the white jacket).

You can follow the tour on the weblog :

Info about the Hungarian Young Greens:

Seminar in Groningen, Netherlands  4-7 November 2004

Falkor I.C.Y. has invited young people from East European and Caucasus countries for a 'feasibility visit' on the subject of cycling in cities. The aim was to get to know each other, to prepare a project together on cycling in different cities and to show the participants bike-infrastructure and bike-culture in Groningen, Netherlands.    
On the first day all participants have introduced themselves and their organization in a presentation, and they showed photos or videos of the (traffic) situation in their own city.

The second day we had a meeting in the old municipality building with the Groningen city governor dealing with environmental issues, and with a representative of the city planning department. The participants asked questions and attended a presentation about the development of the bicycle infrastructure in Groningen from the 60's until now. After that the group explored the city by bike. The local TV station OOG TV broadcasted an item about the activities of this day.

The day after we discussed about the follow up in one of the cities of the participants. It was decided to organize a youth exchange project about cycling in Yerevan, Armenia.

The meeting finished with a creative workshop by 'Loesje' on writing slogans for posters. See here the outcomes of this workshop (PDF file).  

meeting at the Groningen city hall
meeting at the Groningen city hall

Georgia: Academy for Peace and Development , CENN (Caucasus Environmental NGO Network)  Armenia: BEM Youth Progressive Action Center, ‘’Burg’ Youth Environmental Center   
Moldova: Association European Youth Exchange   Estonia: EHTE   
Hungary: Zöld Fiatalok Egyesület (ZöFi) =Young Greens  
Czech Republic: Cycling and Energy Futures  
Poland: SKE “Zielone Mazowsze      

The idea was born at the SALTO-YOUTH Contact Making Seminar in Warsaw in April 2004, where participants from Estonia, Netherlands, Moldova and Georgia designed the plan for a ‘feasibility visit’ with the final aim to organize bicycle activities with young people in different cities in Europe and Caucasus. In most cities in Eastern Europe and Caucasus not many people go by bike, but a lot of people use (dirty and unsafe) cars, resulting in a lot of pollution and accidents among citizens. In some (mainly West European) cities bicycle structures are more developed and could be a source of inspiration to young people in ‘the east’ to organize some street activities and/or pressure on the local authorities to develop a more ‘bike-friendly’ city.      

The project was funded by the EU Youth program and the town authorities of Groningen ('Lokale Agenda 21')

Links participating organizations:

APD (Georgia)
BEM (Armenia)
BURG (Armenia)
SAK (Estonia)
ZOFI (Hungary)

Related links:

World Carfree Network
Lokale Agenda 21 Groningen
European Mobility Week

Description of our cycling youth exchange project with Poland in 1999

See also our pictures!