The basic direction of activity of the Wroclaw Cycling Initiative is to support cycling policies implemented by local governments. The main recipient of our activities is the city of Wroclaw, although we also cooperate with the provincial Institute for Territorial Development. As the authorities of Wroclaw have already decided to create a bicycle city, we are now an ally in the implementation of these plans. On the other hand, we also guard them and ensure social supervision over the activities of the municipal office and participation in the decision-making process. In many cases, we carry out the commune’s own tasks related to bicycles, which the city commissions to non-governmental organizations.
We are members of the Bicycle Policy Council operating at the Mayor of Wroclaw. This is the main platform for cooperation between cyclists and the city authorities. The Council is a mixed body consisting of officials and the social side (representatives of the cycling community), which has an advisory character. It met regularly during the last term of office of Rafal Dutkiewicz and undertook on an ongoing basis issues related to various aspects of cycling policy in all its phases, i.e. programming activities (co-creation of plans, programming the budget), their implementation (opinion on specific concepts and projects) and evaluation (assessment of the effects actions). Under the rule of Jacek Sutryk, cooperation within the Council deteriorated significantly, and official meetings practically ceased to take place.
The Wroclaw Cycling Initiative also tries to take care of political declarations ensuring the successful implementation of the Wroclaw Bicycle Policy. Thanks to the pre-election Declarations of Cycling Wroclaw, we try to provide the city’s cycling plans with adequate funding and political support. These campaigns consist in the fact that during the elections, candidates for the Mayor of Wroclaw publicly commit themselves to implement the postulates of cyclists, including those regarding the amount of the budget. In 2014, Rafal Dutkiewicz, who is seeking re-election, promised to spend PLN 100 million on the expansion of bicycle routes, and this declaration, to the great benefit of bicycle traffic, was kept. A similar declaration was made in 2018 by Jacek Sutryk, but unfortunately, time has shown that these promises have not been kept, and the pace of investment implementation has slowed down significantly.
Another area of our activity is shaping public awareness of the city’s cycling policy. We run the website rowerowy.wroclaw.pl on an ongoing basis, as well as social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are popular among Wroclaw cyclists. We cooperate with journalists, providing topics and commenting on cycling events in local newspapers, radio stations and internet portals.
We also deal with the integration of the environment and shaping the awareness of Wroclaw cyclists. This is served by the largest non-sporting cycling event in the region, i.e. the Wroclaw Cycle Fest. The event has a dozen or so years of tradition (under the name of the Wroclaw Cycle Fest it has been held since 2009) and always gathers a peloton of several thousand cyclists who ride together along the main streets expressing support for cycling changes in the city. The event is often attended by important politicians, thanks to which they have the opportunity to inform the gathered about the implementation of cycling plans and make public declarations of activities in this area or their support for cycling ideas. The Wroclaw Cycle Fest, being a big event, also influences the awareness of all city citizens, familiarizing them with the ideas of sustainable transport and the positive impact of cycling on the quality of life.
The education of young cyclists is a very important issue that our association deals with. Since the beginning of our existence, we have been implementing projects that are calculated to complement the cycling card training system that is very imperfect in Poland. We are a precursor of training young cyclists in real traffic conditions – how it should ultimately look like. Practical education of cyclists is always combined with encouraging children and young people to use the bicycle every day, telling about its advantages and important role in the city’s transport system.
Our educational activities take place under the slogan of Bicycle School and we have been running it since 2008. Classes with children and young people were conducted by us every year in Wroclaw’s schools. Three nationwide editions took place, where cycling education was conducted in 12 cities in over 300 institutions and covered about 3,700 students. Education took place in the form of lectures and indoor workshops, as well as in the form of practical classes on improving driving on the school premises and on the streets of the city with calm traffic. Conferences and practical trainings for teachers were also organized.
We have ambitions all the time to convince the country’s authorities to reform the Polish bicycle card. We strive to make it a common model for cycling countries and to be obtained by all children during education, but at the same time it was not mandatory. We have developed the assumptions for the card reform program and present them to public decision-makers at national level on every occasion. Until this fundamental change, we try to encourage cities and municipalities to improve it locally. We present arguments and share experience. The training methods we developed were disseminated after the Bicycle School project was completed to other local governments.
Being aware that not all important matters for cycling can be dealt with locally, and also wanting to share the achievements and experience, since 2009 we deal with activities integrating Polish cycling organizations in various cities of the country. We are an organization that is a leader and coordinator of cycling network activities at the national level with the ambitions to influence the cycling policy of the state.
We raise funds for joint activities of the organization. These are various types of conferences, seminars and workshops, as well as network meetings. During these events, activists of the organization can acquire knowledge and new skills, as well as share experiences and integrate into one vibrant environment. As part of the projects, it was possible to organize study visits to countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and France, where cycling is at a much higher level than in Poland. We also involved city officials (so-called bicycle officers) in our events so that it is possible to share knowledge and establish relationships between them and bicycle activists, especially in those cities where they are hostile. As part of network projects, social reports on local cycling policies were also prepared, so that they could be compared thanks to a common methodology, and drawn conclusions about the cycling situation on a national scale.